So our festivals seem to be arriving back-to-back, don’t they? What with Durga Puja just ending, and most of us already looking forward to Diwali/Kali Puja, it’s not surprising to find oneself in a pseudo-festive mood throughout. Luckily, us Bongs had another reason to celebrate, albeit at a much smaller scale. Lakshmi Puja in Bengal is celebrated right after Durga Puja, unlike other parts of India where Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped on Diwali.
Now we don’t perform Lakshmi Puja ceremonially at our home; both my parents are ‘Ghoti’, or as folks from West Bengal are called here 😛 and the ritual hasn’t had much precedence as such, though we usually do a small puja; light the holy lamps, some incense, offer bhog/prasad/mithai, flowers, and say a small prayer. And this year, my offering was some quick and simple Nariyal ki Mithai, or Coconut sweets.
This sweet is relatively easy to make, but involves some elbow-grease, as you need to give it the right amount of ‘pak’ or bond, so that it can be shaped. It’s pretty much like the Bengali Narkol Naru, or Coconut laddoo that’s made with freshly scraped coconut and sugar. I offered these sweets to the Goddess, and did my bit for the puja 😀
The ‘Naru’ expert in my family was my Dida (maternal grandmother), though she’d make them around winter, when Patali gur, or date-palm jaggery was in abundance. And because we didn’t get patali gur in Mumbai, she’d make at least a kilos of narus, and bring them for us during her visit. 🙂 I miss her so much, can still feel the taste of those narus.
I made these almost naru-style, except that I added sugar in place of jaggery, and I’ve used homemade khoya/mawa, to bring in some richness and creaminess to the end product. You can use cane sugar, or cane jaggery to make these as well. I don’t much enjoy the flavour, so I’ve used sugar 🙂
Nariyal ki Mithai/Coconut Sweet
- Coconut – grated, fresh, 2 cups (1 whole coconut)
- Milk – 1 cup, whole
- Khoya/Mawa – 1 cup (250 gms), made from 1 ltr whole milk
- Sugar – 2 cups, adjust as per taste
- Cardamom powder – 2 tsp
- Ghee – 1 tsp
- Make a smooth paste of the grated coconut and the milk.
- Heat a deep-bottomed, preferably non-stick kadhai or pan, and add the ghee.
- Now pour the coconut paste, and stir.
- Keeping the heat on low, add the khoya/mawa, and mix well until smooth.
- Cook this on a low flame for 4 to 5 minutes, let it thicken slightly.
- Now add the sugar and cardamom powder.
- Keep stirring, keeping flame low; the mixture will start to thicken and will bubble.
- Be careful of spills and spatters as you stir; it is crucial to keep stirring until the mixture has formed a ‘pak’, or basically, it should start to thicken and lump together.
- This process might take as long as 20 to 30 minutes on a low flame…don’t stop. (It took me 24 minutes until the coconut mixture reached the right consistency).
- Once the mixture is cool enough to touch, start making laddoos, or peda shapes, or any other shape of choice. You may use greased moulds as well.
- Store in an air-tight container, or keep in a greased thali if you plan to serve it right away.
- Refrigerate excess, keeps good for up to 2 weeks.
Tip: As the mixture begins to thicken, pluck a small amount, and once cool, check to see if you can form a laddoo out of it. If mixture falls apart and is too soft, it needs to cook more.