A traditional Maharashtrian sweet made of gram flour, jaggery and coconut milk, Ninaav is a special attraction introduced by the CKP community, which stands for Chandreseniya Kayastha Prabhu community of Maharashtra.
The CKP community grew on the banks of Chenab river in Kashmir around the 7th-8th century and gradually migrated to central India. Today, the community’s presence is felt in regions of West India, like Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan, Nagpur, Pune, Nashik as well as some sections of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. CKP food bears its roots in Kashmiri cuisine as it utilises generous amounts of poppy seeds (also known as khus-khus).
Ninaav or Ninaava literally stands for one “which has no name”. This dish is essentially made of gram flour, semolina, rice flour, jaggery, coconut milk, whole wheat flour, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder, salt, almonds and pistachios. The sweetmeat is made two days prior to the grand festival of Ganesh Chaturthi and this day is termed as Daata.
Almost akin to a cheesecake in its density, Ninaav is garnished with a rich layer of grated cashews and pistachios. The dark brown colour lent by the use of jaggery ensures the fudge-like appearance of this dessert. The dessert was originally cooked on charcoal and wood. This would ensure that the outer layer is crisp and baked (since the charcoal was placed both above and below the covered vessel).
But in modern times, Ninaav is generally cooked in an oven with regulated temperatures for fixed time periods. The oddity of the dessert is that it is made only once a year, during the end of the Shravan month (based on the Hindu calendar).