One island Atoll Cuisines
Hearty, Flavourful local indulgences
fulfilling flavours of Fuvahmulah
For people who want to dive into a world full of activities, as well as for those who just want to laze around and relax, Fuvahmulah is the right place to be! However, it is not solely spectacular natural beauty that will make it your favourite vacation spot. The mouthwatering cuisine of this place, dominated by scrumptious seafood, is also responsible for enhancing the spellbinding charm that this place has mastered.
Kattelhi is a species of snake mackerel found in tropical and temperate waters. These nocturnal fish like to live mostly between 100 to 750 metres in depth and grow to a maximum size of 100cm.
Kattelhi is fished up in the twilight/sunset hours, and it is advisable to take bait fish with you as you disembark the island, or alternatively, catch some on your way to the fishing spot.
Keep in mind that the Maldives has strict laws against unsustainable fishing methods, so a pole-and-line would be the ideal way to go.
A lot of people comment that the Kattelhi has a pleasantly-rich oily taste, which is perfect for making hearty soups.
As delicious as this entire meal is, we advise you not to consume more than 170g (or six ounces) of Kattelhi in one sitting if you are not used to eating fatty reef fish.
The Wholesome & Hearty Signature Meal Of Fuvahmulah
Kattelhi is a species of snake mackerel found in tropical and temperate waters. These nocturnal fish like to live mostly between 100 to 750 metres in depth and grow to a maximum size of 100cm. The only known fish in its genus, they feed on a wide variety of fishes, crustaceans, and cephalopods. Kattelhi had been reported and identified in the Maldives as far back as 1987. It is considered a delicacy in some Maldivian islands, most notably Fuvahmulah, where the catching of the fish and cooking of Kattelhi Garudhiya (snake mackerel soup), the wholesome and hearty signature meal of the one island atoll, is an adventure on its own.
Step 1: Preparations in Twilight
Head out to the open sea in a speedboat, Maldivian dhoni, or a small dinghy boat equipped with fishing lines, reels, hooks, and sinkers. Several local companies in Fuvahmulah can arrange for this fishing trip. Kattelhi is fished up in the twilight/sunset hours, and it is advisable to take bait fish with you as you disembark the island, or alternatively, catch some on your way to the fishing spot.
Locals guard the best Kattelhi spots as their secrets, so make sure you are going with a local to enjoy the best fishing experience you could have.
Step 2: Fishing Up The Elusive Kattelhi
Now that you have your fishing gear ready, and are at the best spot for catching this secretive fish, it’s time to try your luck. Keep in mind that the Maldives has strict laws against unsustainable fishing methods, so a pole-and-line would be the ideal way to go. Attach your bait and sinkers to your fishing rod, and let it sink down to the depths. Kattelhi living around the fishing spots near Fuvahmulah are generally found around 200m in depth, so you’d have to cast your line plenty deep.
With local experts at your side, it shouldn’t take long to catch scores of the elusive Kattelhi.
Step 3: Back To Shore To Clean And Cut
Head back to the shore to clean, cut, and prepare the Kattelhi for cooking. There is a market area where you might see dozens of locals waiting patiently for fishers to return with their boats full of this delightful fish, as it is truly a delicacy in Fuvahmulah. The fish can be cleaned and cut professionally at the market area, but if you like, you can try your hand at it too.
Kattelhi have many dainty fins which should be removed, as well as the spine. While it can be a great experience to try your hand at cleaning and cutting this fish, we would advise you to have a local expert overlook your work to ensure that there are no bones left in your finished product.
Step 4: Cooking Kattelhi Garudhiya
A lot of people comment that the Kattelhi has a pleasantly-rich oily taste, which is perfect for making hearty soups. Kattelhi Garudhiya itself is a simple dish, as most best-loved dishes tend to be, with only a few ingredients added to the water to bring out the best of the fish’s flavours.
Gently poach your Kattelhi with a dash of salt. It’s important to skim the spume that accumulates at the top of the pot for that beautiful, crystal-clear soup. When there’s no more spume rising to the top, add some curry leaves, chopped shallots, a few cloves of chopped garlic, and some whole peppercorns. Add some Maldivian habanero (githeyo mirus) if you are feeling brave. Once these aromatics have softened in the broth, and it is deliciously seasoned with all these lovely flavours, your Kattelhi Garudhiya is done and ready to eat!
Step 5: Taste The Fruit Of Your Labours
Finally, it’s time to eat! For those of you who wish to try this the Fuvahmulah way, eat your Kattelhi Garudhiya with rice, freshly-boiled taro, lemon, and scraped coconut on the side. Squeezing some lemon onto the fish truly elevates the taste, and for the adventurous and lovers of spices, we would recommend a side of Lonumirus aka Maldivian chilli paste. More Maldivian sides you could add to this meal include fiyaa satani (shallot salad), thelulifaiy (fried moringa leaves), lonu lumbo (preserved lemon), and asaara (Maldivian pickles). As delicious as this entire meal is, we advise you not to consume more than 170g (or six ounces) of Kattelhi in one sitting if you are not used to eating fatty reef fish.
With that precaution out of the way, enjoy your warm, hearty, and wholesome Kattelhi experience in Fuvahmulah! We can assure you that memories of the rich buttery taste of this fish will live rent-free in your mind for years to come.
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