Raksha Bandhan: 8 Coconut Recipes For Rakhi & Narali Purnima
Image Credit: Pexels

The monsoon month of Sawan, or Shravan most often culminates in one of the most favoured festivals across several regions. This is the Raksha Bandhan, or the festival celebrating the bond between siblings and cousins. The occasion involves the tying of rakhis to mark love and familial connect and a promise to stand by each other through thick and thin. Raksha Bandhan is a festive celebration that brings the entire family together and involves feasting on some delicious dishes and sweet treats throughout the day. Most often than not, this festival falls in line with the Narali Pournima, or the full moon night that marks the end of Sawan

Image credit: Swasthi's Recipes

In Maharashtra, as in many regions, the month of Sawan involves worshipping nature and offering prayers to its bounties that sustain artisanal and local occupations in fields and along the shores. Monsoons mean pulling fishing nets in, for this is the breeding season for salt water fish. It also means letting the rains drench the farmlands where seeds have been sown to grow abundant crops. At this time, as the fisherfolk and farmers let nature do its work, they also take the time to express gratitude towards these natural wonders. 

And when Narali Pournima and Raksha Bandhan fall on consecutive days, it means a celebration of the bountiful coconut trees as well as of strong familial ties. On these festive days, the sweet, freshly grated coconut is used in many recipes to serve delicious savoury and sweet treats in festive feasts as well as in offerings or prasad placed before the gods. Here are some dishes made using coconut that are indeed tasty treats on these two festivals:

Coconut Malai Ladoo

This mouthwatering sweet treat is made by bringing together freshly grated coconut and fresh malai with sugar and some cardamom that gives it a luxe flavour. Taking a bite of this slightly coarse and sweet ladoo is sheer indulgence, ideal for a festive occasion. Coconut malai ladoos can also become a treat offered to siblings as a sweet during the ritual of tying rakhis.

Narali Bhat

Do away with pulaos and masale bhaat to serve this sweet rice dish infused with fresh coconut and flavours of saffron and cardamom that elevate this simple coconut recipe to a luxe and dense, irresistable sweet dish. Pair narali bhat with traditional foods like aloo subzi and puri as well as some crunchy raita and koshimbir.

Naral Barfi

Celebrate Narali Pournima by making this simple barfi using freshly grated coconut, some crushed nuts and generous proportions of ghee and milk. If done well, this barfi which feels coarse in texture can actually melt in your mouth. The sweet treat is often offered as prasad while paying respects to the mighty coconut tree on the festive day.

Naral And Peas Karanji

Instead of making sweet gujiya or karanji, go for the savoury variation which involves making a stuffing out of green peas and fresh coconut tossed in green chillies, some turmeric and hing. This tasty subzi stuffed in a coating of maida and semolina dough is deep-fried for a crispy, crunchy exterior that is perfect for an afternoon snack.

Pudina And Coconut Rice

Make a savoury rice dish using freshly grated coconut and mint leaves for a refreshing and vibrant flavour on your plate. Mint and coconut complement each other beautifully and mixed with lightly seasoned whole spices like cinnamon and star anise, this mouthwatering dish would elevate the flavour of any feast on festival days.

Khobra Ladoos

This simple recipe uses dried coconut and jaggery as its core ingredients to make the kopra or khobra, that is coconut ladoos. This is an extremely healthy mix of foods that will pump you with energy as you partake in the festival's many small rituals. Make generous use of dry fruits like almonds, walnuts, cashews, kharik and raisins and add poppy seeds for an earthy, dense flavour.

Rava Naral Ladoo

A delightful recipe involving quite a bit of skill, try your hands at making khobra ladoos this festive season. Use freshly grated coconuts and semolina or rava along with ghee to make the ladoo with sugar syrup as the binding agent that brings these dense foods together. Season with raisins and some cardamom and roll soft ladoos that will absolutely melt in your mouth.

Ghavan Ghatla

This is a traditional recipe from Maharashtra's Konkan coast is a lesser-known, heirloom dish that brings together a rice flour cheela and coconut milk in an irresistible pairing. Make the ghatla by melting jaggery and adding fresh coconut milk as well as cardamom for seasoning. Serve warm with the ghavan, or a lightly salted, crispy cheela and aloo subzi.