Spicy Maldivian Fish Cake (Kulhi Boakibaa)


Maldivians have a love affair with tea and snacks. Where there is tea, snacks are sure to follow.

Kulhi Boakibaa or  Spicy Maldivian Fish Cake is one the most popular tea time snacks. It’s one of the easiest and quickest snacks to prepare. Just mix everything in the one bowl and spread it out on a pan or in a cake tin. I prefer to cook my fish cake on the stove top. But you can cook it in the oven too.

We Maldivians love our tuna and coconut. So most of our snacks are based on that.  Since smoked tuna is readily available in Maldives, we add it to give more flavour to our dishes.  Nowadays we use both tinned tuna and the smoked tuna in our snacks. But if smoked tuna is not available use the tinned tuna and it will still be delicious.

Happy Snacking!








Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes or so, if using the stove top or 45 minutes to one hour if using an oven.

Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 medium onion (100g) thinly sliced
  • 1/2 habanero chilli sliced or to taste
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut 
  • 1 tin (185g) tuna chunks in oil, drained 
  • 1 cup smoked Maldivian tuna thinly sliced (if available)
  • 1/2 cup rice flour if using Maldivian smoked tuna (or 1/3 cup rice flour if not using Maldivian smoked tuna)
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon oil for the pan (20cm or 24cm pan) or a small non stick fry pan. If baking in the oven use a 20 cm round  cake tin. This is a thin cake, however if you want a thicker cake, use a small frypan or cake tin.


  1. Place the onion, chilli, curry leaves, salt, and turmeric powder in a bowl and pour in the lemon juice. Combine using your hand, (I use a disposable glove since the chilli  irritate my skin). Don’t be afraid to squeeze the mixture well to ensure that the ingredients are blended well.
  2. Add the desiccated  coconut and combine together. 
  3. Add the canned tuna and mix well, then combine together with the smoked tuna if using. 
  4. Add the rice flour.  
  5. Pour in the water and mix thoroughly until everything is combined well.
  6. Put the oil in a non stick fry pan, or cake tin and spread the oil evenly over the pan. Pour the mixture onto the pan or tin and spread the mixture evenly.
  7. On low heat, (I used the largest burner on my gas cooktop, turned down to low) cover the saucepan with a lid and cook until the bottom side is golden brown, for about 10 minutes or so. Keep checking and don’t let it burn. If the heat is too high move to a smaller burner of your gas cooktop.
  8. Take lid off and carefully flip the cake over to the other side and cook until the other side is done, usually another 10 minutes. Cook it longer if needed. 
  9. If using the oven, cook the cake in a pre heated 180 degrees Celsius oven and bake it for 45 minutes to one hour, or until done. Oven temperatures may differ, so keep that in mind when baking.
  10. Slice into triangles or squares.
  11. Enjoy with a cup of a tea.

If you make the recipe, please share it by tagging @nattulicious on Instagram.

Please leave a comment too, I would love to hear from you.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Usha says:

    Any substitute for rice flour ?


    1. nattulicious says:

      Hi Usha, sorry I haven’t tried with any other flour yet.


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