Coconut Naru

Coconut Naru

A Bengali staple dessert, narkel narus or coconut balls, are served at gatherings to celebrate most festivals, including Durga Puja, Diwali/Festival of Lights. In Hindu festivals, coconut-based sweets and desserts are usually offered to the gods or elders as a sign of reverence, and respect. Starting the Hindu new year or a festival to celebrate family, with coconut–a South Asia regional staple– desserts has long been a cultural and religious tradition.

As a family, I grew up eating narus with my afternoon tea holding a small coconut ball, spiced with cardamom, and sweetened with jaggery (or molasses), between my teeth as I sipped the Darjeeling tea, allowing the sweetness and coconut-flavor to mix with the first flush fragrant flavor of tea. Narus store well, and are an easy snack to eat with afternoon tea, or as is.

“This recipe for Coconut Naru is easy to make and a lot of fun as well. After minimal prep and a few minutes of cooking, the delicious mixture is ready to roll into balls, top with fresh raspberries, sprinkle with coconut and chill.” —Joan Velush

Coconut Naru/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 2 cups finely ground unsweetened dried coconut flakes, 3 tablespoons reserved to coat naru 

  • 1 teaspoon ground green cardamom

  • 1/2 cup molasses, or sweetened condensed milk

  • 3 to 4 threads saffron, optional

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or avocado oil

  • 12 to 16 whole fresh raspberries

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for coconut naru

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Lightly toast the coconut flakes in a large nonstick skillet over a medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until fragrant, about 1 minute.

    coconut in pan being toasted

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add cardamom, stirring quickly until the coconut starts turning a light brown, about 2 minutes.

    toasted coconut in pan with spices

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Add the molasses and the saffron, if using, while stirring the mixture constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and continue stirring until brown and sticky, about 1 minute.

    molasses added to pan with toasted coconut and spices

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Liberally coat your fingers with coconut oil and roll the coconut-molasses mixture into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter. Transfer to a clean plate.

    coconut mixture rolled into small balls on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Gently push one raspberry, closed part facing down, into each naru.

    raspberries pushed inside of coconut balls on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Sprinkle each naru with about 1/4 teaspoon of the reserved coconut flakes. Refrigerate the narus to firm up before serving, at least 2 hours.

    coconut flake narus on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • Make sure to keep the flame to slow or medium-low to avoid burning the coconut.
  • When rolling the balls, be careful to let the mixture cool for at least 5 minutes before starting,
  • Coating your fingers with oil helps roll the narus easily.
  • Make Ahead – The entire recipe can be made at least a month in advance, stored in the freezer in zip-top bags. Make sure to thaw them overnight in the fridge, and serve cold.

Variations

  • If you don’t have molasses, use 1/2 – 3/4 cup of condensed milk instead, depending on how sweet you want the narus to be.
  • Use your favorite berry or omit if you’d like.

Storage

You can freeze the narus for at least 1-2 months. Make sure to store them in the fridge overnight so they thaw slowly, and serve them cold after.

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