Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Boafolhi (young coconut and rice pancakes)

 I love going through the old  Maldivian Cookbooks by Zareena, the late Mohamed Ameen didi's and Naila Kaleyfaan's books. I also like a more recent one, that I have borrowed from my mother new one by a lady called Naaz which also has some nice authentic local recipes along with new modern ones. 

While looking for a recipe for a sweet snack, since I have covered quite a lot of them I came across this recipe called Boa folhi .  I asked a distant relative of my mum, who said it was a type of pancake that was made using the young coconut, locally known as gabulhi. It is rolled up once it is cooked and served as a snack.  What I found interesting is that in both Ameen Didi's book and Zareena used a mixture of egg and oil to brush the pan locally known as thavaa, something like a crepe pan, before ladling the pancake mixture.  I made it like that on my first attempt. On my second attempt, I decided to skip the egg and just used oil. I realised that in the old days the "thavaa" would be non stick so in order to prevent it from sticking to the pan maybe they used the egg with the oil so it is easier to lift it off from the pan. Well, that's my theory.  

So to make Boa folhi, you need a gabulhi or young coconut. Not so young where there is no meat inside. More like somewhere in between a young coconut and a mature coconut. 

young coconut (Gabulhi)

 The meat is more tender and sweeter and whiter compared to the mature coconut. Here in the Maldives, it is easy to spot as the outer shell will be cream coloured to the dark brown shell of the coconut. 

Now came the part that annoys me in almost all local recipes. They always call for the flesh of two coconuts or one but never mentions how much is there in that coconut. Because they come in various sizes and especially when it comes to the young coconut it does vary the amount of flesh inside. 

So I measured how much there was,  so it makes life easier the next time I make it. 

Oh, I almost forgot, I decided to use my own ground rice. I did have storebought fine ground rice but I wanted to stick to the original. So I soaked some basmati rice for about 4 to 5 hours or even overnight is good.  Then I used just about 1/4 cup water I ground it to a fine paste, using those wet grinders. I always pop downstairs to my mum's, I think she probably prays I don't buy my own so I will keep coming in with my mixes to be ground.  Anyway, once the rice is finely ground, add the scrapped young coconut meat and grind again. 

Then stir in sugar, and a little coconut milk so it has the consistency of crepe mixture. Crepe mixtures are thinner than pancake mixtures.  Then an egg, some cinnamon and cardamom and rose water. Beat to mix everything up. 

Then using a piece of tissue ( in the old days they used this bound-up piece of cloth scraps, which is used to dip in oil) dip it in oil and rub on a 6 inch frying pan, which is being heated on medium-low heat.  Then add a ladle of the mixture, swirl the pan a bit to spread it out and let it set.

Once bubbles form on top, carefully roll it up , check the pictures below.  Repeat with the rest. 

Enjoy warm or cold. 

Yield: 12- 14
Author: Nammi

Boa folhi ( young coconut pancakes)

Prep time: 45 min cook time: 45 Mininactive time: 4 hour total time: 5 H & 30 M


  • 3/4cup (125g) basmati rice
  • 1 cup grated young coconut meat(gabulhi huni)
  • 1  or   1  1/4 cup sugar  ( use 1 cup if you want it less sweet)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk ( I used storebought packet if using fresh use thick coconut milk)
  • 1 egg
  • oil to brush the pan


  1. Wash the basmati rice and soak in water for 4-5 hours ( or you can soak it the night before)
  2. Drain the water and using a  little water, ( about 1/4 cup)  grind to a fine paste. 
  3. Add the grated coconut and grind again. 
  4. Then pour into a bowl. Add sugar, coconut milk and mix till the sugar has dissolved. 
  5. Then mix in the egg, rose water, cinnamon, and cardamon.
  6. Rub some oil on a 6-inch frying pan, over medium-low heat. Once hot, add a ladle of batter. Swirl it around to spread it out. Then let it set.
  7. Once the bubbles form on top and very carefully start rolling from one side all the way to the end. Remove to a plate and repeat the same with the remaining batter. 
  8. Enjoy warm  or cold.
Did you make this recipe?
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  1. Here we can only get dark brown skinned coconut, but still really delicious. These pancakes look terrific, Nammi. I can tell from the picture that they are soft and tender.


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