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Of Celebrations, Memories & ‘Narkel Naru’ (Coconut Confection)

The festivities celebrating different forms of the Goddess are nearly over – the Navratri fervour will reach its crescendo tonight with Ravan dahan even as the Durga devotees are gearing up for that final adieu, the idol immersion.

That feeling of having enjoyed a festival to its maximum, mixed with that bittersweet emotion of the end of something good is palpable in the atmosphere.

I’ve always had an intense dislike for this feeling. “Why must the festivities get over?” has always been my grouse. Even as a child, I would sulk after Navratri and Durga Puja were over… similar to a young adult sulking when the party is over.

Trust my parents to have the perfect trick in their arsenal to remove me from the funk – Bijoya food!

It’s a tradition that I’ve grown up with, watching my parents standing over the kitchen gas, working together to make those delicious sweets that will be served to well-wishers visiting to wish us Shubho Bijoya. The soft grating of the coconut scraper, the clang of the ladle as the parents took turns mixing the sweet concoction in the vessel with the murmurs of memories exchanged whilst shaping the sweets have always been music to my ears.

Forced to catch up on the school work, I would find excuses to stroll into the kitchen, intent on finding the source of the sweet smell wafting through the house. Sneaking a bite here and earning a glare there, I would be hustled out of the kitchen until I was old enough to not have school work. Then I was roped in as a helper.

And oh what fun! Especially when Maa would be making ‘narkel naru’, the all-time favourite and must-eat Durga Puja sweet.

What is ‘narkel naru’? Narkel means coconut in the Bengali language and naru means ball so narkel naru means coconut balls.

Perhaps among the easiest and common sweets made at home, the narkel naru is a Bengali household staple during the post-pujo festivities.

narkel naru is made with two ingredients – freshly grated coconut mixed with sugar or jaggery. These two ingredients are cooked together on low flame until they form a fudgy mixture which is then shaped into small, delectable balls of delight.

Ask a Bengali and he/she will delight you with stories of narus made by their parents, grandparents and even great grandmothers. Such is the history of narus that have been around since time immemorial, making each festival a delight, loading each bite with a memory.

The brilliant part about narus is that they can be made round the year and stored for 8-10 days in airtight containers. Perfect for the tiffin box, a picnic, or to send in the package to your relative studying (or working) in that far off land.

There is only one tricky part to making the naru and that is ensuring that the coconut mixture does not burn AND that the mixture is not overcooked. To avoid the former, stir the mixture frequently when it is cooking. And to avoid the latter, think fudge!

Sharing with you the way my Maa and grandmothers made the naru at home. Do give it a try this festival season (or otherwise) and let me know how it tastes.

Wishing you a very Happy Dussehra and Shubho Bijoya… warm wishes from mine to you and yours.

fromthecornertable, traveltuckintalk, tuck in, coconut, confection, sweet, Indian
Freshly grated coconut, sugar or jaggery and a pinch of cardamon powder are the main ingredients.

Narkel naru | Sweetened coconut balls
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 
A festival special confection in which freshly grated coconut is cooked with sugar and jaggery before being shaped into little balls.
Course: Confection, Dessert
Cuisine: Bengali (Indian)
Keyword: coconut, confection, dessert, jaggery, sugar, sweet
Servings: 20 pieces
Author: Rapti B
Ingredients
For 'chini' (sugar) 'naru'
  • 200 grams Freshly grated coconut
  • 200 grams Sugar
  • ½ cup Khoya (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee
  • ½ teaspoon Cardamom powder (option)
For 'gur' (jaggery) 'naru'
  • 200 grams Freshly grated coconut
  • 150 grams Jaggery
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee
Instructions
For chini (sugar) naru:
  1. In a wok or kadhai, heat 1 tablespoon ghee.
  2. As the ghee smokes, add the grated coconut and stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar along with khoya and mix well.
  4. Stir frequently until the sugar melts completely and has mixed with the grated coconut. Be careful about letting the sugar-coconut mix burn.
  5. Once the coconut mixture is sticky and can be shaped into balls, remove from the flame and set aside until it is warm. (To check whether the coconut mixture is cooked enough, scoop a tiny portion into your palm and shape it into a ball. If the shape holds, your coconut mixture is ready.)
  6. Let the mixture warm for a minute or two before forming small balls with it. A cool mixture will not allow you to shape so be careful.
  7. Serve fresh or store in airtight containers for 8-10 days.
For gurer (jaggery) naru:
  1. In a wok or kadhai, heat 1 tablespoon ghee.
  2. As the ghee smokes, add the grated coconut and stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the jaggery and mix well.
  4. Stir frequently until the jaggery melts completely and the coconut has taken a brown hue. Be careful about letting the jaggery-coconut mix burn.
  5. Once the coconut mixture is sticky and can be shaped into balls, remove from the flame and set aside until warm. (To check whether the coconut mixture is cooked enough, scoop a tiny portion into your palm and shape it into a ball. If the shape holds, your coconut mixture is ready.)
  6. Let the mixture warm for a minute or two before forming small balls with it. A cool mixture will not allow you to shape so be careful.
  7. Serve fresh or store in airtight containers for 8-10 days.
Recipe Notes
  • If at any point you feel the naru mixture is not sticky enough, add some crumbled khoya and mix it well.
  • Khoya increases the creaminess and binding factors. To make khoya at home, refer to the post ‘An easy khoya recipe’.
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