Come Ganesh Chaturthi and my mom gets busy making ‘olya naarad chi wadi/ geele nariyal ki barfi’ Why geela/ wet? As the coconut used here is not dry, but the one which has water, and is freshly grated. Now, there is a reason this is targeted to be the sweet for this occasion. Ganesh Chaturthi is followed by Rakshabandhan, where a sister would give a coconut/ nariyal to her brother along with tying the rakhi. So, in a typical household, the number of coconuts collected after rakhi are equal to the number of sisters, cousins who arrive to tie rakhis to the brothers in that house. I can vouch that this yummy sweet is the best outcome that can be created out of coconuts.
Though the labor and long hours that go into its making scare me off, I just can’t forget the soft and smooth white delight that melts into the mouth. I used to gobble down atleast 4 to 5 everyday, till the steel box in the fridge emptied. I have had so much of it year on year, that just the mention of it brings the taste to my mouth. So, though there were no coconuts collected at my home in rakhi, I had resolved to make these before Ganesh Chaturthi. So, I bought coconuts this weekend and started off . Though my target was to make burfi(s), I ended up making laddu(s) – just make them look more appealing to baby A and also to make them more handy and transportable, I find the burfi(s) too fragile. The taste though remained the same as what mom makes, justifying every minute that went into making it.
Note – if just scrolling down the page gives you a feeling that this a long recipe, here is a gist – break a coconut, scrape/ grate it, dump it in a wok with milk and sugar, cook till dry – done 🙂
big sized coconuts/ nariyal – four
sugar – as mentioned in below recipe
milk – 1 litre (I used full cream, toned should work too)
dry coconut powder – four tbsp (optional)
ilaichi/ cardamom powder – 1 tsp
1. Tear off all the outside hairy layer of the coconut. This is an effort in itself – needs a lot of force to pull off the peels/ Tip – try roping in your hubby for this task 🙂
2. Now, we want the coconut broken into exact two halves, which is a requirement dictated by design of the scraper. However, if you are not going to use the scraper, skip the next step.
3. Take some water in a bowl. Using your fingers, draw a line of water along the mid line of the coconut (you are drawing a line along the coconut with water, dividing it into two exact halves). Keep these aside for five minutes. When I was a kid, I thought this is magic, but I eventually guessed the logic behind this step. The water makes the surface of coconut soft along the mid-line.
4. Go ahead and break the coconuts by hitting it on a hard surface/ floor. If you have performed step 3, the coconut will break into two halves, else there may be random pieces.
5. Also, while you are breaking the coconut, the water will gush out of it and spread around. A technique my dad devised to collect the water – before breaking the coconut, pierce one of the three ‘eyes’ with a sharp knife. This is easy as the coconut surface is soft on these three spots. Drain out the water through the hole you have pierce in a glass. This water is nutritious and refreshing.
6. Scrape out the inner white flesh of the coconut using the scraper. This device is a must-have in maharashtrian and south Indian homes, where coconut is used in abundance. I got the one by Anjali (here). If you don’t have one, you can grate the coconut using a hand grater or a food processor.
7. Measure the coconut powder using a cup. For one cup of coconut powder, you need half cup of sugar.
8. Take a wok/ kadhai with a heavy bottom. Put in the coconut powder, sugar. Add in milk, as much as to cover the surface of the coconut, sugar. I used 1 litre of milk for six cups of coconut powder.
9. Heat this mixture on a sim flame. Keep giving it a stir every now and then. I leave a long handled spatula in the wok, this also prevents the milk from boiling over.
10. Once this is half cooked, add in the ilaichi powder.
11. Keep cooking till all the milk is absorbed and the mixture looks dry. There should be no or hardly any water content when done. This stage takes 1.5 to 2 hours to reach, depending on the quantity. If you have just one cup coconut powder to deal with, this may be done in half an hour.
12. To make burfi(s) : take a flat steel plate and grease its surface with some ghee. Dump the contents on the plate, pat down the mixture so that you get a uniformly thick layer. Keep this to cool (in the fridge if you want). Cut squares after 2-3 hours.
13. To make laddu(s): let this mixture cool down. Shape into laddus. If you find this difficult, add in the dry coconut powder and mix uniformly, till you find the mixture manageable.
14. This remains good in the fridge for up to a week.