The heart of Bengal is green and tastes like Narkel Naru

by - August 30, 2016

Today I bring you an unusual dessert that in fact, comes from Bengal. They are Narkel Naru, balls made with coconut, milk, sugar, and cardamom. Traveling is a highly personal experience, as is also the personal value that adds to a specific destination based on individual tastes and expectations. Whether for example, we value more a natural landscape than the historical richness, or the exuberant culture or the exquisite gastronomy. Sometimes it simply changes our perception of the destination by the people that we know there. As that phrase says: "The important thing is not the place but the people".

Well, sometimes we leave behind a city with a sweet taste in our mouth not so much for the place itself, but for the experience, we have had there with the people we have met. However, I tell you that Bengal made me fall in love not only with the people I met there, it also caught me because of its colors, the rice plantations, the waterfalls hidden behind a bushy brush on the way to Darjeeling, the friendly people and always smiling and of course its incredible culture.

Narkel Naru is a sweet from the Indian region of Bengal (like the royal Bengal tiger). The Narkel Naru cannot be missed during a religious ritual to worship one or more deities as well as to celebrate a spiritual event. The ceremonies can take place both at home and in the temples, and there are also annual festivals such as the Durga Puja and the Lakshmi Puja.

Narkel Naru is not only made for different festivities, but it is a sweet that is prepared at any time of the year. This dessert inevitably reminds me of my childhood. It has an ingredient called khoya or mawa that is cooked from the whole milk and that has a very slow preparation. Nowadays, in any supermarket, you can find both grated coconut and mawa.

In many religious currents, devotees make offerings with flowers and fruits. That's why we see that on the altars of their deities you can get a variety of tropical fruits such as papaya, mango, pineapple and other fruits associated with rites that are celebrated to pay promises or simply to show gratitude and devotion to the deities. When traveling to India you can see how these types of rituals are practiced by devotees to show their respect and love for their deities. In India, one of the most common offerings in a temple is the coconut. The coconut is also offered on special occasions such as weddings, festivals, the use of a new vehicle, bridge, house etc.

It is offered to the god in the sacrificial fire while the homa is undertaken, the ritual of fire. The pūjārī breaks the coconut and puts it before the fire. Later it is distributed as prasādam. This is one of the most practiced rituals and on your trip to India, you will see that it holds great significance for the devotees.

Next, we will describe the ritual. The fiber cover of the dry coconut is removed. The marks on the coconut are made to look like the head of a human being. The coconut is broken. The juice inside is offered along with the white mass to the god. This is part of the ancestrally rooted traditions that you can learn more about when traveling to India.

In the traditional abhiśeka ritual that they do in all the temples and in many homes, they add various materials on the image of the god such as milk, yogurt, honey, soft coconut water, sandalwood paste, sacred ash, etc.

Tender coconut water is used in the rituals of abhiśeka because it is believed that it grants spiritual maturity to the seeker. Every part of the tree (the trunk, the leaves, the fruits, etc.) is used in many ways, for example, roofs, mats, tasty dishes, oil, soap, etc.

The coconut takes up the saline water of the earth and converts it into fresh and nutritious water that is particularly beneficial for sick people. It is used in the preparation of many Ayurvedic medicines and in other alternative medicinal systems. Maybe when you return from your trip to India you want to practice some health tips to use with coconut.

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  1. Hi Kaylan, I have not eaten this but anything with coconut sure finger licking good. ;)

    Have a nice week ahead.

  2. Hi K!

    I love narkel naru: we make them a lot at home (usually to celebrate the New Year). It is deliciousss!


  3. Hey Kalyan,

    I see you re-posted this recipe. Ladoos are delicious and very familiar to me, as per my 2012 comment :).