Meet the Toddy Tapper of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

Jun, 24 2020

Toddy, known locally as ruku raa, is extracted from the blossom of the coconut palm. The process of extracting this sweet drink, known as toddy tapping, is infamous for its complexity. 

We sit down with Haroon Ibrahim, the resident Toddy Tapper at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu to learn more about this local tradition. 

• How long have you worked at Coco Collection? 
Over different occasions, 6 years and 2 months.

• What is your backstory?
I was born and raised on Thulhadhoo in Baa Atoll, the neighbouring island to Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. I have always loved the idea of living a simple life. Even as a young man, I was interested in trying my hand at a lot of traditional crafts and activities, such as boat building, playing local drums known as Bodu Beru, lacquer work which my island is famous for, and of course toddy tapping.

• How did you first become a Toddy Man?
I have always had an interest in toddy tapping. I learned from a gentleman who visited my island from Meedhoo in Raa Atoll. I observed him toddy tapping, learned the little tricks of the trade, and soon after I started practicing myself.

• What are some recipes for a toddy drink?
As a Maldivian, I would say that the best way to drink fresh toddy, without adding anything to it! Toddy is always tapped very early in the morning. It also ages very quickly so it tastes sweeter in the evening, however people say that it is better for your health if you drink it fresh in the morning.


Why is it a dying art?
I think the young generation feels shy, as they think it’s something older people do. They see it as dull, menial work. I hope more people nowadays will start to understand how fascinating it is though, so maybe we’ll have more toddy tappers again in the future!

• What is the process of toddy tapping?
First, you need to identify a strong and healthy coconut tree. Next, you affix the ladder on the palm tree. We use a wooden ladder that is bound to the tree with coir rope, so it’s strong and stable.

Once you climb up, you have to select a coconut flower. On average, you will find 3 to 5 flowers on a coconut tree. Select the oldest flower and cut the tip.

Apart from being a deliciously refreshing drink, toddy is also boiled down to make coconut honey or dhiyaa hakuru. Dhiyaa hakuru can be considered as the Maldivian alternative to sugar and was traditionally used to make a variety of desserts. 

Haroon and the chefs at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu have been busy tapping toddy and making dhiyaa hakuru to use at the resort.   

Categories: People