Exciting news for foodies looking for a new sensation: Milaidhoo Island Maldives has opened the first modern Maldivian restaurant in the Maldives, called Ba’theli. Possibly one of the few fine-dining restaurants in the world that encourages its diners to come barefoot, Ba’theli [pronounced ‘bah-telly’] opened on December 15, 2016. Ba’theli’s architecture reflects its heritage as it takes its name from the local word for a traditional wooden sailing boat and has been built in the shape of three boats that stands on stilts over the lagoon. One ‘boat’ is the restaurant, a second ‘boat’ is the bar-lounge and a third ‘boat’ is the kitchen.
Guests can dine either outdoors on the open-air ‘deck’ of the restaurant under a starry night sky, or inside the boat, which is air conditioned and has glass floors for views of the marine life below. Facing the west, Ba’theli commands perfect sunset views and is reached on foot by an overwater wooden jetty. Ba’theli is open for dinner every night from 7 pm and offers a six-course Maldivian heritage tasting menu as well as an a la carte choice.
The story of ba’theli boats began over 5,000 years ago when the Maldives became a key port of call for traders sailing from Indonesia and India to Arabia with cargoes of cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cloves, ginger and pepper. The Maldivians bartered coconuts, sun-dried fish, cordage, cowrie shells and sails woven from coconut fiber for spice, rice, ceramics and silks. Locally-made cargo boats, called ba’theli in the local language, sailed throughout the archipelago with these goods, spreading knowledge about different lands, their customs and cuisine.
Inspired by this heritage, the story continues on board the restaurant as the team, led by Maldivian chef Ahmed “Seabass” Sivath, creates dishes inspired by local flavors taken from the old maritime spice routes, blending local herbs and spices to enhance natural tastes.
With such a stunning location and design, the restaurant’s food has to live up to the setting so it’s chef Sivath’s responsibility to ensure that the food in Ba’theli is every bit as unique as its architecture. The Ba’theli menu features classic Maldivian dishes such as Garudhiya (a clear soup with tuna), mashuni (a tuna salad with coconut, pumpkin and lime) as well as a selection of regional specialties from around the different atolls such as a beef curry from the north and chicken curry from the far south of the Maldives.
The menu isn’t limited to local ingredients, although many of the dishes originate in the Maldives. It also takes on cooking techniques and flavors from around the Indian Ocean, as does traditional Maldivian cooking. Ingredients from India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia find their way onto the menu, all giving their subtle influence to the dishes. The Ba’theli restaurant concept is part of the Milaidhoo ethos to give guests a very Maldivian holiday with a real sense of island life.
For more information or reservations, visit www.milaidhoo.com.