Coconut laddu/laddoo is one dessert or sweet that is known in every household in India. It is a much-revered sweetmeat that is offered during festivals both religious and other cultural festivities.
In my in laws place in Kolkata, narkel naru or coconut laddu is made during religious occasions such as Janmashtami, Lakshmi Puja and on Dashami the 10th or last day of Durga Puja.
In an Assamese household , coconut laddu is a must during one of our harvest festivals Bihu also called Bhogali Bihu or the festival of plenty. Bhogali Bihu is celebrated during the month of January or Magh of the Saka calendar after a rich harvest. The paddy fields that were once golden and heaving heavy with ripe chaff were harvested in Nov/Dec and now the barns are filled with rice. It is when the fields are rich with vegetables of all shapes, sizes, and colours. It is the season of plenty and hence the season and the reason to rejoice and celebrate.
Neighbourhoods, communities, villages, towns get together and enjoy a feast prepared with the fresh produce from the fields! Various delicacies are cooked and there is a great atmosphere of celebration. One such delicacy is this popular sweet - Coconut laddu/laddoo/naru/laroo!
Generally, the sweet snacks are prepared in advance before the D-day. As kids, I remember we used to gather up in the kitchen to help darling mother in prepping ingredients for various dishes and sweets that were about to be cooked. Preparing a coconut to get to the delicious, shiny, pearly white copra is nothing less than a ceremony. The local veggie seller would stock up dry whole coconuts with the husk. One needed quite a bit of skill here, right from peeling off the fibrous husk, to cracking the tough nut and in the process making sure that the sweet coconut water is not spilled but instead carefully drained into a bowl. This carefully retained natural drink was to be sipped with joy in the end as a reward for the hard work! The hustle and bustle in every Assamese home during this time of the year is heart-warming and joyful.
Since I left my maternal abode, many moons ago, I don't remember making any effort of going through the tough grind of dealing with raw coconuts. However, now that time seems to have slowed down, and I have got time to think about food and its beautiful forms I made this coconut laddu albeit adding a bit of a healthy twist! I had nearly a whole coconut leftover from my chholar dal (bengal gram dal) that I cooked the other day ( I needed only a few flakes). A quick call to my MIL is always helpful, who suggested that I should probably make them into laddus. And so I did, as I couldn't think of anything better.Forgive me if you are disappointed with the dilution of the purity of this ever so popular delicacy. Trust me, it turned out so well that I devoured as many as I could and my family enjoy it too - all of it, completely guilt free! But remember - everything in moderation is good, so is eating this one.
Diwali is fast approaching too, so maybe if you are feeling sweet today, try this easy peasy laddu recipe.
240g grated fresh coconut (this is what came out of 1 whole coconut)
60g ground mixed seeds; I took a mix of pumpkin seeds, golden linseeds, hemp seeds and sunflower seeds
1tsp cardamom powder
100g desiccated coconut
Warm up a heavy bottomed, non-stick pan on medium - low flame. Tip in the fresh grated coconut and stir it.
Keep roasting it for at least 10-15mins on a med-low heat by stirring constantly. We do not want to brown or burn the coconut.
Now add the ground seed mix and mix well.
Continue to dry roast for another 10mins. Roasting will release the natural oils in the coconut and the seed mix, and it should give out a nice toasty aroma.
Add the cardamom powder and mix well.
Next tip in 100g jaggery and mix well.
Keep stirring until the jaggery melts and the mixture starts leaving the sides of the pan.
It is time to remove the pan from the heat when the mixture starts to form lumps when you squeeze a bit of the mixture with your fingers.
Let it cool down for few minutes before you roll the laddus into ping-pong ball size.
Roll each laddu in the desiccated coconut to give it a nice coating and texture and keep aside.
Enjoy these healthy coconut delights with a steaming cup of tea!
You can store these in airtight containers in a cool, dry place for up to a week. Most likely these will not last until then as they are so good!
Do not let the mixture cool down for too long, it will make it near impossible to roll it into balls.