Apart from the fact that Naarali Poornima is the day Coastal Maharashtra celebrates the coconut and that fisherfolk offer coconuts to the sea on this day to ask it give them plenty and keep them safe from calamities, I know little about its significance. What I do know is that on this day, every year, my mum makes this coconut and jaggery scented rice and as a kid, I would insist she make truckloads of it so I could eat leftovers the next day. And the next. As a diabetic now, I haven’t made this in my own house for years. Today, though, I just needed those aromas filling the house.
This special rice dish is so simple to make, even novice cooks can make it with the confidence of an old grandma. A few tips:
- Use aged rice; at least a year old. Ask the grocery store when you buy it; it will be yellowish in color.
- Use good, organic jaggery to get a resplendent gold.
- Use ghee, not oil.
- Use fresh, grated coconut or frozen unsweetened coconut; dessicated will not do.
- I love using raisins in this, but I’d run out of them today. Use almonds, too, if you like.
And here’s the recipe:
- 1 cup aged rice
- 3/4 cup freshly grated coconut
- 1/2 cup jaggery
- 4-5 cloves
- 3-4 cardamom pods, split and powdered
- a pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp. ghee
- 10-12 cashew nuts, halved
- Place the rice, 2 cups of water, 2 cloves, salt, and 1 tsp. of ghee in a pot and bring to the boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low and cook until the rice is three-fourths done.
- In a thick-bottomed pot, heat the rest of the ghee and lightly fry the cashew nuts. Remove.
- Add the remaining cloves. Stir momentarily until fragrant. Tip in the coconut and jaggery and stir until the jaggery melts. Add the cardamom powder.
- Add the cooked rice and toss lightly, trying your best not to break the grain.
- Cover and cook until the rice is done and all the liquid is absorbed.
- Serve hot.