Narkel Naroo is an integral part of Bengali festive celebrations. It is also popular across the Indian subcontinent and various other cultures. The Bengali diaspora across the globe have especially kept the tradition alive by preparing it to celebrate festivities away from home. These delicious sweets are vegan, gluten-free, paleo-friendly, nut-free, and dairy-free and can be enjoyed all year round.
What is Narkel Naroo?
Let’s break the name down. ‘Narkel’ means coconut, and ‘Naroo’ is a small spherical sweet, very much like the popular Laddoo. Therefore, Narkel Naroo is just grated fresh coconut cooked with jaggery till it becomes sticky and soft. It is then shaped into small balls that are the perfect bite-sized portion of this scrumptious decadent sweet.
Notable Ingredients at a Glance
Coconut – You’ll need 4 cups of grated coconut flesh. You can buy frozen shredded coconut in Indian grocery stores abroad. But make all efforts to get fresh coconuts. The United States has very robust logistics and you can find things fresh that you definitely wouldn’t have thought would be possible to get there. Check all your local grocery chains before settling for the frozen stuff. Desiccated coconut cannot be used to prepare Narkel Naroo.
Jaggery – You’ll need 400gms of jaggery. Jaggery is simply unrefined cane sugar. It’s different from brown sugar in that it’s not refined at all.
How to prepare the Narkel Naroo?
Let us first grate the coconut and keep it aside. Use a hand grater that’s made like a scoop. It’s available in most Asian markets. Don’t try to do this with a fork as you’d essentially score the flesh and the flakes won’t be consistent enough for cooking.
Break the jaggery into smaller pieces or you can even use powdered jaggery (also available in Indian grocery stores abroad). In a deep wide pan put the coconut and jaggery and mix them well.
All the cooking should be done on low flame and not a high flame as it will otherwise burn the coconut and jaggery.
Keep stirring them continuously so that it does not stick to the kadai. The jaggery will melt gradually and mix with the grated coconut.
Keep cooking on low till all the water from the jaggery dries up and the coconut becomes sticky and everything comes together. It takes about 20 to 25 minutes to reach the desired consistency.
Wet your palms with water and form a small nadu and see if it comes together or not. If it does not come together and falls apart you need some more cooking.
When it all comes together then it’s done. Remove it from heat and keep it aside for a minute.
Wet your hands with water and form small round balls. Do not wait for the mixture to become cold as then you may not be able to shape the Narkel Naroo. Narkel Naroo can be stored in an airtight container for 15 to 20 days.
Some expert tips for preparing Narkel Naroo
- Watch out for poor-quality jaggery in the markets. Good-quality jaggery has a hint of nutty flavor and smells like molasses. Avoid spiced jaggery as it might prevent the coconut from sticking together.
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