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The Maldivian Evening Tea – ‘Haveeru Sai’

A Culture of Communitea

A Maldivian Evening Tea is an occasion you should experience to feel the vibe of the Maldivian foodie scene. It is a time just after work hours where you sit down to just satisfy that craving between lunch and dinner and catch up with your people. Maldivians love their evening tea and take this opportunity to dress up, visit and gather among the senior and extended family members.

Maldivian Evening Teas’ includes a variety of savouries and sweets. The table will be arranged with Crumb-fried Tuna Cutlets, Bajiyaa, Kulhi Boakibaa, Fuh Jehi Kavaabu, Mas Fathafolhi, Gulha, Riha Folhi, Kavaabu, Havaadhulee Bis, Mas Roshi & more. All these savouries will have one ingredient in common. Either the smoked tuna fish or the canned tuna produced in the Maldives. Maldivians have a very sweet side as well and these teas will not be complete without Githeyo Boakibaa, Krim Jehi Banas, Dhonkeyo Kajuru, Dhan’di aluvi Boakibaa, Gan’bulhi Boakibaa and Huni Hakuru. Scraped coconut & sugar is commonly used in Maldivian desserts.

An Evening Tea is traditionally Maldivian. A High Tea is known as quintessentially British. Unlike the British High Tea, the Maldivian Evening Tea is something that anyone can afford. Especially when you meet Maldivian families. They love to offer you food, especially home-made as some of the recipes for the tea-time savouries and sweets have been handed down from mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers. Most of the Maldivians drink their tea very sweet. Before the era of packaged foods and convenience, tea leaves infused with the aroma of handpicked jasmine flowers from the garden were used at traditional tea-times. Now, Tea Shops are dotted around in the capital island Male’ as well among the inhabited islands. You can have a Maldivian Evening Tea Experience anywhere between 3$ – 10$. Most of the food outlets in the Greater Male’ Region have Evening Tea Buffet’s where the spread is large. While just a few of the typical “Sai Hotaa”’s are around now, more upscale food outlets are opening up with lavish buffets at evening time. These buffets are slowly evolving and you can find fusion tea snacks now, which is not a surprise given the fact that Maldives has chefs from all over the world working in the Food & Beverage Industry.

Before cafés started popping up in the atolls, the Maldivian Evening Tea was a symbol of hospitality to visitors, both local and foreign. The island community always invited visitors to their homes for the “Haveeru Sai” (Evening Tea). It wasn’t a business activity, the invitations came with the spirit of community and hospitality. This was before mobile phones and it was all a part of social interaction and connection to the islanders. That was the way of life & hospitality in the atolls during the more simplistic times. While you are island hopping in the Maldives, dropping into one of the several cafe’s between 4pm – 6pm will let you catch the vibe and a glimpse into how the Maldivians enjoy their Evening Tea.

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