Narkel Naru is a sweet dish from Bengal made from coconut, milk, and sugar or jaggery. Traditionally consumed during pujas and Indian festivals, these coconut ladoos are essential sweets in Bengali families during Navratri, or the ‘Nine Nights Festival’. Navratri is a Hindu festival lasting 10 days and 9 nights, during which Goddess Durga is worshipped. The 10th day, commonly known as Vijayadashami or Dussehra will be celebrated tomorrow. This is the perfect opportunity for me to share this recipe, which I adapted from here.
I must say that this is a pure coincidence that I came across this sweet just in time for Navratri. :-) I had no idea what Narkel Naru was until RO from ‘Comebacktobeditscold’ mentioned it some time back. I’m glad I was curious enough to look it up on the net. The idea fresh coconut cooked with milk, sugar and cardamom was totally appealing to me. The coconut balls made from this cooked mixture are soft, chewy, and amazingly delicious!
- 2 1/2 cups grated coconut, fresh or frozen (unsweetened)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar (according to taste)
- 1 – 2 tsp powdered cardamom
- rose essence (optional)
- 4 cups milk OR 2 cups milk+1 cup evaporated milk OR 2 cups evaporated milk
- Add 4 cups milk to a pan and boil till reduced to half in volume. I used 2 cups milk and 1 cup evaporated milk. So it takes less time to reduce to about 2 cup. You may as well use 2 cups evaporated milk straight away. I also added 3 – 4 cardamom pods while boiling the milk and removed them when reduced. This is just because I wanted a strong cardamom flavor.
- Mix in the sugar into the milk until dissolved. (I used only ½ cup)
- Add the grated coconut. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring frequently until the milk almost dries up. The mixture will start coming away from the sides of the pan. This will take around 20 minutes.
- Add the cardamom powder and rose essence when it’s almost ready. (The flavor of cardamom is lost when subjected to heat for too long.)
- Do not dry the mixture too much else you won’t be able to make balls. What you can do is; when you think its ready take a small amount of the mixture and try to make a ball. If you find it too moist then cook for slightly longer.
- Switch off the heat and let the mixture cool slightly. When still warm to touch, make small balls by rolling between your palms. The ladoos will dry up and become firm once completely cooled.
Store the coconut ladoos in the refrigerator. These keep well for several days.
I like the way bits of grated coconut were sticking out of my ladoos; but if you don’t like those then you can shred the coconut more finely in your grinder. Enjoy!