This was one sweet I loved when I was in school.
Ma made it for most festivals and I loved the color – she added something that always made for very pretty pink barfi or laddoo– as much as I did the taste !
I made these with dessicated coconut a couple of years ago when she was here, when I took some Indian food for the international day at the CIV that year. Those tasted quite nice too, but when I called Ma for the recipe last week – not having made this dessert since then – she encouraged me to make this mithai with fresh nariyal – not for her,the packaged, dessicated stuff ! – so I did, since I trust her judgement about these things and do agree with her general principle that “fresh is best”.
As it turned out, the taste of the laddoos was close enough to the memory I have of her delicious barfi that I was glad I followed her advice.
Fresh coconut – 1 (this will be enough for around 20 laddoos)
Milk – 500 ml
Sugar – 3/4 cup (to be honest I approximated this so start by adding half a cup, then add more if the mixture doesn’t seem as sweet as you’d like)
Raisins – a small handful
( I did this too totally by approximation and then found that eventually there were about 2-3 in each laddoo. Use less if you like)
Powdered green cardamom – 1 tsp or a little more if you like
1 and a 1/2 tablespoons of Ghee
Take out the flesh of the coconut from the hard shell, remove the brown skin using a knife or a peeler, then chop in to chunks. Put it through a food processor to obtain a very fine texture.
Bring the milk to a boil in a thick-bottomed pan, then add the coconut. Cook the two together, on a moderate heat, stirring thoroughly occasionally, till the milk begins to be absorbed.
You may find you need to add a little more milk if the quantity you started with dries up before the coconut is as soft as you’d like (though it will retain a bite and not go totally soft even if you add more milk).
Once the milk is almost completely absorbed, add the sugar and the raisins and cook the mixture for a few more minutes till it appears quite dry. Now add the ghee and the cardamom powder and cook the mixture again for a few minutes till it starts to leave the sides of the pan.
Take the pan off the heat, let the mixture cool a little for , say, 5 minutes. Now apply some ghee on your hands and roll the laddoos with the mixture (about 1 tablespoon of the mixture will make one laddoo). Try and finish rolling all of them as quickly as you can because the mixture tends to dry a bit gradually, making it a little more difficult to handle.
The girls love these, which makes the effort worthwhile. Not that it is that tough, anyway. Except the first part (preparing the coconut ) which does take time, the rest of it is something that one can do while there is a whole lot of other stuff going on.
Yesterday morning, while the milk and coconut mixture cooked ( I made twice the amount for an after-dinner Diwali party that we had been planning with friends, so that took a while), I also made a wheat berry salad for lunch, supervised Indira’s homework, had two cups of tea through the two tasks and there might have been another chore that got done as well that I am forgetting now, including some stuff I did with Noor, I think.
So this is another one of those dishes that sort of cooks itself – once the basic prep has been done of course ( I did that the previous night so yesterday morning it was as easy as taking the prepared coconut out of the fridge and putting it in to the milk, which took the pain out of it).
For me, this is the real McCoy – though the recipes that use dessicated coconut and condensed milk make for very nice laddoos too and save so much time and effort – so I would probably make the laddoos again this way 🙂