The local fish market and the adjacent vegetable market have always been dominated by the male population, and until quite recently, saw very few female visitors. It’s a given that getting vegetables and other local goods straight from the source is a much better option than going to the supermarket and getting imported produce. So when I was gifted a bag of green mangoes by a friend, my first thought was ‘I should make lonumirus’ imediately followed by ‘I should go to the market to buy the rest of the ingredients’.
The coconuts (which was what I needed to buy) were sitting right at the doorway when I got there. I pretended not to see them and made my way inside, just because I really really wanted to walk around. My eye was immediately caught by this giant, shiny and gorgeous pile of githeyo mirus (scotch bonnet peppers). I stopped there for a while, asking the salesperson questions about it, and admiring the bright colors.
I ended up walking around the entire market before making my way back to buy the coconuts. By the time I made it to the entrance, I had bought some lovely githeyo mirus, murangatholhi (moringa drumsticks), a tasty little packet of some kind spicy potato sambal and some kattala (sweet potato). With the addition of the two coconuts, my entire shopping spree cost me just a measly 50r.
For all those out there who dread going to the market because you think it might be unclean or unsafe, that’s a misconception. The condition of the ground is not really very different from the condition of the ground elsewhere in Male’ City, and every single salesperson at the different stalls are friendly and helpful. You can ask them about where the goods originated from and they happily tell you stories about their sources, and what makes it special. They are eager to offer you samples too, but not in a pushy way.
Overall, I had an extremely positive experience. There’s so much produce to browse through, and it’s locally sourced so it’s supporting our Maldivian farmers. So next time you need to buy rihaakuru, asaara or any kind of vegetable, why not try the local market first?
Words & Photos by Ruba