Dabbling with chilli

Making traditional Maldivian food is not my strong suit. I dabble with hedhika (short eats) but that’s about it. So when my friends decided to have a Maldivian dinner, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and volunteered to make lonumirus (chilli paste).

I thought I would call my grandma for the recipe. She is one of the best cooks I know. I admire the way her cooking is so instinctual, something I am still trying to master. But my grandma just gave me the ingredients, not the quantities. This, for a person who follows recipes meticulously was very problematic.

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But I decided to go along with it and just threw everything into my food processor. There was a lot of trial and error. I think I added too much coconut, which was why everyone thought it wasn’t spicy enough. Or the colour wasn’t really red so in went some smoked paprika (maybe that’s me cheating a little). Also, my food processor is too big. My lonumirus didn’t look anything like the original, but more coarse.

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But people seemed to enjoy the lonumirus, and because it was coarse it gave a nice freshness and the mint left a few people guessing. Since a whole bunch of Maldivians liked my lonumirus, I thought I would go and ahead and make a fihunumas (baked fish with lonumirus).

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This time round I added less coconut, but everything else, I just chucked in. I was really excited about the baby snapper since this was the first time baking a fish. And it turned out quite nicely. It wasn’t over cooked and the fish came off the bone easily. I invited a couple of friends around and we had it with some cous cous, salad with mango and some tomato salsa. A nice western twist to a traditional dish!

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I don’t have any decent photos of the end product, or even the whole dinner table unfortunately. As I am still collecting and gathering enough dishes, I didn’t have a nice long dish to serve the fish in. So it had to stay in the baking dish. But the meal was so light and we finished it off with some lovely cheesecake bought my friend. She made it at home with passionfruit straight out of her garden! Yum!

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