Addu Bendi:  The Maldivian Toblerone

Addu Bendi is from Coconut

Just yesterday, I visited Addooge, the most famous house in Add Atoll for making Addu Bendi. It is popular among some people as  Addu Toblerone. I was looking forward to some real time bendi making scenes. The friendly  old lady I met there was the one who together with her late husband was behind making the best of Addu bendi  during the last 20 to 30 years. She is not in her best days, and her daughter-in-law has take over the job. She talked like a mother calling me son.

Genuine Bendi

genuine bendi

As I talked to her I wanted to taste one,  so asked the price. I had to buy 4 for MRF 50 because she did not have  change for purchase of one. When I handed 50 Rufiya over to the lady, her daughter-in-law brought to me 4 pieces each 10×1 inch.  I started  eating one, and talked to her  about  how she makes   Bendi asking her questions while she answered and I went on eating until I finished one whole bendi on the spot.  Usually I would limit sweet things for a bite or two, but  not with Bendi. I can never stop eating this Adduan delicacy until I eat  one whole one or more. Just like toblerone; so called  because of the similarity in dimensions.

Tastes different

Apparently,  there are now many people or households that make Addu Bendi. The taste is never the same. Bendi is said to a product of southern atolls. But when you say Addu Bendi it is special,  there is nothing that tastes like it. The ingredients are not secrets. Gabulhi and dhivvehi hakru. Gabulhi has no replacement English word but can be explained as a particular stage of the growing coconut (the fruit of the cocopalm. It’s after Kurumba which is the sweet drink, and before kaashi which is last stage which is usually referred to as coconut. The right selection of Gabulhi is essential for the  taste and flavor that you crave for and it is what makes Addu Bendi special.

What is Gabulhi?

There is no  line  drawn to say which is kurumba, which one is gabulhi or kaashi. This is just a matter of experience. Gabulhi is the stage when the white layer  of coconut on the inside on the nut is tender before  it becomes kaashi. At  this stage coconut cannot be scrapped into distinct grains, it is  neither liquid nor solid. If you have identified the right gabulhi you have solved the  problem, if you fail here you can never taste Addu bendi.

Two ingredients

The only other ingredient for recipe is Dhivehi hakuru, liquid sugar made out of toddy, again a product of coconut palm, the national tree of  the Maldives.  The Lady  that  you have the use table  sugar to make  it hard. However many are using more normal sugar because of the difficulty in getting dhivehi hakuru.

So how to make it?

Addu Bendi in the makinng

You just mix the  two and cook it over medium heat and keep stirring up and down. This is made in an extra large pot using  a locally made big spatula called dhaba. Its all experience that decides which proportion, the coking time,  the heat, the whole process decides extraordinary coconut rich flavor, the texture, the tenderness, the taste. Its only Addu people who can perceive the right taste and relate it to the process, wherever else you will never taste Addu Bendi, and if you have never tasted it you will never realize or perceive the taste.

Bendi: a must for visitors

Today many people make Bendi in all shapes and sizes, for tourists, for party giveaways. Traditionally bendi is rolled while  hot in  dry banana leaves. Although I have not seen from Addooge, Hithadhoo and could not take any pictures,  I still can imagine the life twenty years ago and beyond. You have to be Adduan to make Addu Bendi to know how it tastes.  In this trip to my homeland I have not tasted the real delicacy that is called Addu Bendi

 

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