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Maldivian Recipes: Laamu’s much-loved ‘Golha Riha’ (Fish Ball Curry)

It is never a bad time to take a leap of faith and try your hand at a new dish, and for Ramadan this year, The Edition brings its readers the authentic, homegrown tastes of the Maldives, from decadent delights of the North to scrumptious savouries of the South

Fathmath Shaahunaz
16 May 2019, MVT 10:04
Malaafaiy Ep1 - Laamu's much-loved 'Golha Riha'. VIDEO: HAWWA AMAANY ABDULLA / THE EDITION
Fathmath Shaahunaz
16 May 2019, MVT 10:04

During a visit to Gan, this writer had the good fortune of trying ‘Golha Riha’, a signature dish of Laamu Atoll. Although unfamiliar with the name at the time, it was love at first taste - this special reef fish curry is a spicy, savoury blast in your mouth, and sure to leave one drooling at the memory for days to come.

The rather thick curry has a green tone to it, thanks to the green scotch bonnets and herbs added, and is a marriage of elements Gan is blessed with an abundance of; spectacular fishing, magnificent coconut fields, and fresh green, summery herbs.

Preparing this dish takes a fair amount of time, as it involves rolling the flesh of reef fish into small balls and preparing ‘Dhivehi havaadhu’ or Maldivian curry paste. While you can purchase havaadhu in local stores, we highly recommend fresh, home-made paste - you will surely taste the difference!

For this reason, a bonus recipe for the local curry paste - Laamu Style, is added below.

Now, without further ado...

Golha Riha is a must-have for any visitor to Laamu Atoll. PHOTO: HAWWA AMAANY ABDULLA / THE EDITION

Golha Riha

Preparation time: 30-40 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes


1 onion

1 scotch bonnet (githeyo mirus)

5 garlic cloves

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp fennel

1 tsp grated ginger

3-inch pandan leaf

Curry leaves

Light coconut milk

Thick coconut cream


1 reef fish (Snapper or Grouper)

'Dhivehi havaadhu' (Maldivian curry paste)


1. Scrape the mild flesh of the reef fish with a knife, and set aside.

2. Grind the onion, scotch bonnet, garlic cloves, pepper, cumin, fennel, grated ginger, and curry leaves, with salt and Maldivian curry paste in a spice grinder.

3. Work a portion of this spice blend into the scraped reef fish; add more of the blend as needed.

4. Roll the marinated fish into small balls (roughly marble-sized), and set aside.

5. Pour light coconut milk into a pot and mix in the reserved spice blend, salt (to taste), pandan leaf, and curry leaves.

6. Cook for five minutes.

7. Add the fish balls into the curry, and simmer for another 15 minutes.

8. Add the thick coconut cream, simmer for a bit, and remove from heat.

You can enjoy this reef fish curry with steamed white rice, roti and even bread.

Golha Riha is a signature dish of Laamu Atoll; savoury and spicy, it goes well with rice and roti. PHOTO: HAWWA AMAANY ABDULLA / THE EDITION

Dhivehi havaadhu (Maldivian curry paste)

- In a saucepan, stir grated coconut, pandan leaf, curry leaves, onion, garlic, pepper, cumin, fennel, coriander, ginger and scotch bonnet/dried chilli, on low heat (without oil).

- Grind them in a pestle and mortar (or a spice grinder if you want to save time).

- Store in an airtight container.

As the people of Laamu would tell you, don’t ever miss out on Golha Riha if you’re lucky enough to visit this gorgeous atoll in the south! In the meantime, The Edition hopes that this recipe can give readers a taste of the Laamu experience.

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