A Bengali staple dessert, narkel narus or coconut balls, is served at gatherings in celebration of most festivals including Durga Puja and Diwali/Festival of Lights. During Hindu festivals, coconut-based sweets and desserts are commonly offered to the gods or elders as a sign of reverence and respect. Kicking off the Hindu New Year, or a festival of family celebration, with coconut desserts—a regional staple in South Asia—has long been a cultural and religious tradition.
As a family, I've grown up having narus with my afternoon tea and holding a small ball of coconut flavored with cardamom and sweetened with jaggery (or molasses) between my teeth as I sip the Darjeeling tea, blending the sweetness and coconut flavor with the fragrant taste of the first tea. Narus stores well and is an easy snack for afternoon tea or on its own.
“This recipe for Coconut Naru is easy to make and a lot of fun too. With minimal prep and a few minutes of cooking, the delicious mix is ready to roll into balls, top with fresh raspberries, sprinkle with coconut and chill.” – Joan Velush
- 2 cups finely ground, unsweetened dried coconut flakes3 tablespoons reserved for coating naru
- 1 teaspoon Floor green cardamom
- 1/2 Cup molassesor sweetened condensed milk
- 3 to 4 threads SaffronOptional
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or avocado oil
- 12 to 16 quite fresh raspberries
- Gather the ingredients.
- Lightly toast the coconut flakes in a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add cardamom and stir quickly until coconut starts to turn light brown (about 2 minutes).
- Add the molasses and saffron (if using) and stir the mixture constantly for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and continue stirring until brown and sticky (about 1 minute).
- Brush your fingers liberally with coconut oil and roll the coconut-molasses mixture into small balls, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Place on a clean plate.
- Gently slide a raspberry into each naru, closed side down.
- Sprinkle each naru with about 1/4 teaspoon of the reserved coconut flakes. Before serving, refrigerate the Narus for at least 2 hours to allow it to firm up.
- Be sure to keep the flame on slow or medium-low to avoid burning the coconut.
- As you roll the balls, be sure to let the mixture cool for at least 5 minutes before beginning.
- Coating your fingers with oil will make the Narus easier to roll.
- Go on – The entire recipe can be made at least a month ahead and stored in the freezer in ziplock bags. Be sure to thaw them in the fridge overnight and serve them cold.
- If you don't have molasses, use 1/2 – 3/4 cup condensed milk instead, depending on how sweet you want the narus to be.
- Use your favorite berry or leave it out if you like.
You can freeze the Narus for at least 1-2 months. Make sure you refrigerate them overnight to allow them to thaw slowly, then serve cold.
|nutritional information (per serving)|
|Servings: 3 to 4|
|amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Saturated Fat 14g||70%|
|dietary fiber 5g||17%|
|Total sugar 47g|
|Vitamin C 2 mg||11%|
|Calcium 95 mg||7%|
|iron 3 mg||15%|
|Potassium 789 mg||17%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) indicates how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories per day is used for general nutritional advice.|
(Nutritional information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)