Mahalaya (which just went by on October 12th) brings with it a tide of memories – setting the alarm for 3:45 am and gathering around the radio promptly at 4:00 am to hear ‘Mahisasura Mardini’ sung in the magical voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadhra, the man who made Mahalaya memorable. As he masterfully recites versus and narrates the story of the decent of Goddess Durga on earth and her valiant slaying of the demon Mahisasura, mom would get busy in the kitchen making a breakfast of Luchi (Puri), Aloor Torkari (sautéed potatoes) and Narkel Naru. The narration ends with mankind bowing to this supreme power- “Ya devi sarbabhuteshshu, sakti rupena sanksthita Namasteshwai Namasteshwai Namasteshwai namo namaha.”
And the feasting would begin! I am an Athiest, but even today I wake up early morning every Mahalaya, turn on iTunes and listen to Mahisasura Mardini while making Luchi, Torkari and Narkel Nadu. It’s about traditions and re-living memories.
This is also a quick recipe for making a decadent dessert for any day in the year. My mom is known in our friend circle for the amazing Narkel Nadu she makes, I have just made a couple tweaks – she uses Cardamon Powder, I like to use All-Spice instead and replaced regular sugar with coconut palm sugar (for its low glycemic index).
Time for Prep: 5 mins Time to cook: 30-35 mins Yield: around 24 Level: Easy
- 12oz frozen grated coconut (or fresh grated coconut)
- 8 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 4 tbsp coconut palm sugar (or regular sugar)
- 1 tsp ghee
- 1 tsp all spice (or cardamon powder)
- Dry coconut flakes (optional)
- In a heavy bottom pan mix in the sugar and coconut, before turning on the heat.
- Turn the heat to low settings and cook the mixture for 4-5 mins, stirring frequently, till the sugar is melted and the coconut is lightly toasted.
- Add the milk and condensed milk, slowly stirring it in.
- Add the ground all spice (or cardamon powder). Taste test to see the level of sweetness and add more sugar if needed.
- Keep stirring frequently and cook in low-medium heat till the coconut is cooked. This will take approximately 30-35 mins.
- Milk dries up and the coconut comes out clean from the sides (see picture above).
- Be careful not to dry too much or you cannot make the balls. I usually just test it out by making a ball and seeing if it stays, if not I cook a little more).
- Take off the heat, Add ghee and stir it in.
- Cool slightly and start making the balls by rolling it between your palms which are around 1 inch in diameter.
- Roll in dried coconut flakes (Optional).