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Maldivian Recipes: Four Different Southern Special ways to enjoy 'Ala' (Taro)

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

Nafaahath Ibrahim
25 May 2019, MVT 10:19
Nafaahath Ibrahim
25 May 2019, MVT 10:19

Taro, more locally known as 'Ala', has earned a beloved role in traditional Maldivian cuisine. However, for most Southerner's it forms an intrinsic of one's daily diet, whether hailing from Laamu, Huvadhoo, Fuvahmulah or Addu Atoll, where beautiful, vast Taro fields are plentiful and a point of distinct pride.

An 'Ala Dhandu' (Taro Field) in Fuvahmulah Island-Atoll. PHOTO: MIHAARU
Five different dishes prepared from 'Ala' (taro). PHOTO: HAWWA AMAAANY ABDULLA

While there are many different ways people prepare this locally grown starch, this time we bring it prepared in four different ways from the South, each packing both a punch of nostalgic, delicious flavor.

The Taro Snack: Ala Chips

Ala Chips is a local favourite snack. PHOTO: HAWWA AMAANY ABDULLA

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

Thinly sliced ala

Oil

Method

1. Heat a generous amount of oil in a pan

2. Once the oil is hot, dip the slices in gently

3. Fry well and remove

Once cooled, this makes for a delicious snack you can enjoy over a of cup tea!

Appetizer: Ala Boakibaa

Ala Boakibaa which makes an amazing appetizer. PHOTO: HAWWA AMAANY ABDULLA

Preparation time: 25-30 minutes

Cooking time: 30-45 minutes

Ingredients:

Ala

1 Onion

3 Garlic Cloves

Ginger

Curry leaves

1 Chilli

Dried fish

Tuna

Rihaakuru (fish paste)

Grated coconut

Banana leaves

Method:

1. Grind some ala into a paste and keep aside

2. Combine sliced onion, chopped ginger, curry leaves and chilli

3. Mix everything together well

4. Add chopped dried fish and knead the mixture

5. Add some tuna, finely diced

6. Add a few spoons of Rihaakuru (fish paste)

7. Keep kneading the mixture

8. Add grated coconut and mix again

9. Take the pre-set ala paste

10. Add the ala and mix it all well

11. Take some banana tree leaves, cleaned and arrange the paste on the leaf in a round shape, with the desired thickness

12. Place the leaf on a frying pan

13. Cover with more leaves

14. Slow cook over a small flame

15. Keep flipping the ‘boakibaa’ until both sides are well done.

Enjoy the bursting flavours while the 'boakibaa' is still a little warm.

Perfect Main Course: Mashed Ala with Garudhiya

The perfect Main Course; Mashed Ala with Garudhiya. PHOTO: HAWWA AMAANY ABDULLA

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1. Ala

2. Garudhiya (fish soup)

3. Grated coconut

4. Chilli

Method:

1. Grab some ala, clean and steam until soft

2. Serve with Garudhiya (fish soup) and some grated coconut

3. You can also add some chilli and other condiments to compliment the taste

Definitely Dessert: Ala Pirini

Ending on a great note with Ala pirini as dessert. PHOTO: HAWWA AMAANY ABDULLA

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes

Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

Ingredients:

Ala

1 can condensed milk

Sugar 1/2 cup cornflour

Vanilla extract

Sea almonds

Method:

1. Boil grated taro in water

2. Once soft, sieve the taro out from the water

3. Puree in a blender until it forms a thick paste

4. Pour the paste into the pan

5. Add condensed milk

6. Slow cook on mild heat while stirring

7. Add sugar to taste

8. Dissolve cornflour in water

9. Add to the paste

10. Keep on slowly stirring it together

11. Add some vanilla extract

12. Cook until mixture thickens, while stirring

13. Plate and garnish with chopped sea almond sprinkled on top

Serve warm and enjoy!

For anyone planning a trip to the South, an authentic preparation of one of the above at the very least is a must do on the foodie bucket list. If you're from the South and reading this, make sure to let us know what your favourite 'Ala' dish is!

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