What Are Gulha?
Gulha is a fried dumpling that comes from The Maldives. I had never heard of them before starting research for my ultimate dumpling guide, which is the followup to my curry guide that went viral! But I have to say, they are incredibly unique.
Obviously, many dumplings are deep fried. However, very few have fish. After tasting these gulha, I can’t imagine why. The filling is unlike any I’ve had before. It’s fishy, but also zesty, and a little juicy! Slightly acidic, with a savory profile.
In this recipe, I’ll show you how to make everything, from the filling to the dough. If that’s intimidating, you can always try it out first with store bought dumpling wrappers. Also, if you have any leftover filling, which I had a lot of, just add mayonnaise for a fantastic tuna salad!
The only problem I had is that the filling is very wet. When this makes contact with the dough, it makes it difficult to close. There’s a couple ideas I had to solve this issue.
First, I tried squeezing the juice out of the balls of filling. Then, I rolled them in flour, so no liquid would come out while I tried to close the dumpling. This technically worked, but it results in a dry filling when you bite into the gulha, so the end product own’t be as good.
Second, I tried turning a couple into hot pockets. I couldn’t close them into a ball so I squished them flatter and added more dough on top, so they were rectangular. This doesn’t make the correct shape, but they had a superior taste than the first method.
Last, is the best I could think of. Don’t load your gulha up with filling. You need space to close it. Also, you could roll out the wrappers so you have more room to work with. I would suggest rolling the balls in flour after, because the liquid can seep through.
What Should My Filling Look Like?
You want to have a chunky filling. Don’t blend the tuna or it will lose its texture. Also, don’t blend the veggies into a smoothie. It should look similar to this.
Why Jalapenos Instead of Scotch Bonnets?
That’s simple, I could find one but not the other. Scotch bonnet is native to that part of the world, and is frequently used in Indonesian cooking as well. I didn’t think the filling ended up being spicy at all with the jalapenos.
However, a quick search shows scotch bonnet is much hotter than a jalapeno. About the same as a habanero. So, if you like spicy food and want to stay closer to the original gulha, try using 4 habaneros instead. I bet that would add a big punch of flavor.
What Should My Dough Look Like?
As you can see, you don’t want the clumpy dough that won’t stick together, as in picture number 2. You want a gulha dough that will form into a ball with relative ease, that isn’t sticky. If your dough is too sticky, add more flour. If it won’t come together, add more water. Do either very slowly, a little bit at a time.
How to Crack a Coconut
First, you want to poke a hole in one of the coconut eyes and drain all the liquid inside, or else you will make a mess. You can either pour it down the drain or drink it.
I found the best way to crack the coconut was to use a hammer. Put the coconut on a flat, hard surface and just start wailing on it. I tried using the back of a knife like some people say, but it wasn’t working for me.
Gulha – Maldivian Tuna and Coconut Dumplings
- 5 oz tuna (1 can chunk tuna)
- 1 yellow onion
- ½ coconut
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 1 lemon (just the juice)
- 2 jalapenos (or scotch bonnet)
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup warm water
- Either finely chop the coconut, onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapenos, or put them all in a blender with the lemon juice. If blending, do not turn into a paste, try and make everything a small mince.
- Drain the water from the tuna. Add to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, stir thoroughly to combine. Taste to see if it needs any adjustments.
- Combine the flour and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl. Add warm water, salt, and work the dough. You want a dough that stretches but isn't sticky. Add more water or flour as needed.
- Tear off a piece of the dough, and flatten as much as possible, into a pancake. Make a depression in the middle.
- Add a scoop of the filling, close the dough around the filling. Repeat until you run out of filling or dough.
- Fill a pot with about 3 inches of vegetable oil, and heat up on medium. Once the oil is hot, add your dumplings. Fry about 8 at a time. Fry for about 8 minutes, or until dumplings are golden brown. Repeat until you finish all the dumplings!
This could work in lieu of fresh peppers. Plus, it’s been on Hot Ones!