Monday, March 15, 2010

Narali Bhaat: Sweetened Coconut Rice

Every year we would all meet at my maternal Grandma's home for festive occasions. It was the happiest of times ( and the noisiest- for the elders) when all cousins could gang up for the day.  Laughter was heard from every corner and a roar of annoyance in case one of us overstepped our limits of rowdiness ( which was just as often as the laughter) till all of us ( 5 cousins) were thrown out and kept out till it was lunch time.
One such holiday was Narali Pornima / Rakshabandhan. The heavens would open up and rain would pour and we would jolt in the local trains and auto-rickshaw which offered NO protection in the pelting rain to reach 'Aajicha ghari' (Gandma's home). There is nothing as heart warming as  a Grandmother, nothing!  Her gentle hands ushering us in, handing out soft towels ( 'pancha') to dry ourselves and a hot cup of tea to warm us and her concerned voice, "barach vel jhala, mala kalji vatayla lagi hoti, mhatla  pavsaacha lakshan  bara nahi, faslat ki kay?...  aga dhamey, bas ki jara majha javal, lagech kay khelaychay ( that was for me)?" ( meaning : I was worried about you all, time was getting on and it is raining such a lot, I wondered if you guys were stuck somewhere.... addressing me: sit down beside me for a few minutes, do you have to rush to play?)
One by one  the others would trickle in and something like a routine would set in, the ladies would head into the kitchen, the gents would sit in the living room and discuss cricket, politics and we found ourselves either thrown out or thrown in one bedroom (in case of heavy rains) and the door shut to ensure sanity of the elders. 
Lunch time was invariably delayed on such a day but nobody complained. The yummy food made up for lost time.
Narali Pornima meant Narali Bhaat ! Warm fragrant coconut rice, sweetened with jaggery, served on babana leaves.  I don't  remember the other items on the menu, good as they were, we usually pounced on the star item! 
In many of my previous posts I have let it drop that the Husband has a psychological allergy to coconuts and so it's been a while since I have enjoyed Narali Bhaat . 
I made some  'Undhiyo' ( a Gujarati mixed-vegetable dish ) and had some frozen coconut left over. And so, on a Tuesday ( when the husband was FAR away from home) I made this  rice dish to share with my friends.
On a weekday ( Mon- Thurs) we are a group of 5 and gather every afternoon and spend time together, talking laughing, eating , watching a movie or simply going to the mall. We usually mix and match our meals ( bring whatever you have). This rice is fairly simple to put together and if you have an electric rice cooker, there is no monitoring !

You need:

1 cup Rice ( I used Sona Masuri)
1 cup Shredded Coconut ( fresh or frozen)
1 cup Jaggery ( this makes the rice mildly sweet, increase the quantity by 1/4 cup if you prefer a sweeter version)
4 Cloves
2-3 tbs. Ghee

Wash rice in 3-4 changes of water and set aside for 15 mins.
Heat 1 tbs. Ghee in a wok/ kadhai and add the Cloves
Add the washed and drained rice and mix well so that every grain of rice is well coated and aromatic
At this stage, I usually put  rice in the rice cooker and  add water (3 cups for Sona masuri) and set it to cook mode
In the same wok add and heat over med-high heat, 2 tbs. of the remaining ghee, add the jaggery and let it melt ( keep an eye, it tends to burn all too easily), immediately add the shredded coconut and mix well
Cook for 1 min, just until the  whole things comes together
Add the coconut-jaggery mix to the rice, stir and allow to cook thoroughly
Once done, fluff and serve.

* If you like,  crush 2-3 cardamoms and add the powder to the rice  ( once cooked)
Briefly fry cashews in ghee and add them to the rice along with cardamom powder

If using Basmati rice, use water in proportion ( 1:2 - 1 rice, 2 water)
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  1. What lovely warm (and wet!) memories! What delicious rice!

  2. Lovely Memories and it must have been nice to share food with so much memories with friends.

    I don't have a rice cooker, sniff, sniff

  3. Thatz a lovely dish with the fond memories! And definitely a nice click!

  4. Loved reading aobut this,i think kids now don'thave all these good time we had, ofcourse they would fully disagree.
    Delicous looking rice.

  5. A delicious writeup to go with a delicious recipe, Manasi. I used to love narali bhaat and I remember looking forward to narali poornima too, partly to be able to eat this treat.

  6. THANK YOU All of you!

    Sandeepa, U can use a normal pressure cooker or even the stove top method.

  7. Wow... my fav recipe.. looks perfect.. :)

  8. Lovely post, enjoyed reading it ! Brought back memories of my time with my cousins and my grandmother whom we all adored :-)

    Loved the narali bhaat, I always assumed it needed sugar, love that it has jaggery, will surely try this!


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