An unbreakable bond- Jaggery and Coconut

Don’t miss out on these traditional sweet dishes when in Goa
An undeniably famous and timeless combination!
An undeniably famous and timeless combination!Photo: Venita Gomes

Just like idli and sambhar or peanut butter and chocolate, we Goans have an undeniably famous and timeless combination—coconut and jaggery which is widely used in sweet preparations.

As kids, much of the evenings were spent following our grandparents as they scrapped heaps of coconut on the ‘adaho’ (traditional coconut scrapper) which was then mixed with some jaggery. To keep us occupied, a spoonful was handed over which we relished as quickly as possible.

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In the olden days, our ancestors made the best use of the resources that were available in their surroundings for instance coconut became extremely valuable to the community.

From using  the coconut flesh in dishes, the husk as scrubs or fire wood, drying coconut to extract oil, making toddy, feni to even  jaggery ( known as ‘madha godd’). They also made sure these were beneficial to the health. They used palm jaggery as a sweetener that is rich in magnesium and iron.

So if you step in a Goemkar’s (Goan) house one evening, you are likely to be welcomed by these preparations made of coconut-jaggery that will gratify those taste-buds and take you back to some favorable times.

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Goan Patoleo/ Patoli

Patoleo is a traditional sweet dish made of rice flour, stuffed with some jaggery-coconut filling (known as 'chunn' in Konkani) and steamed with some fresh turmeric leaves. In Goa patoleos are prepared and shared among neighbors at festivities such as the feast of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15), San Joao, Nag Panchami and Ganesh Chaturthi.

Patoleos are prepared and shared among neighbors at festivities.
Patoleos are prepared and shared among neighbors at festivities.

One usually learns to make patoleos by being part of the large ensemble, where everyone takes on one of these roles- gently washing each turmeric leaf, spreading the rice flour paste evenly across the leaves, spooning in the filling, folding each leaf lengthwise, placing the patoleos in a steamer and making sure that once the leaf is discolored to remove the prepared patoleos and cool them.

A warm patoleo is enjoyed especially during the monsoon months as you find a lot of turmeric leaves grown locally. These give patoleos its distinct flavor and aroma. So, peel that turmeric leaf and revel on this Goan delicacy.

Holle/ Donne

Some find these similar to patoleos (mentioned above) however the making of holle has a slight variation. Traditional holle are cones made of jackfruit leaves, coated with rice flour paste, stuffed with a coconut jaggery filling and steamed.

If you chance a visit to Goa during festivals like San Joao and the feast of Assumption, you'll find yourself relishing on this traditional sweet dish whose recipe has been passed down through generations.

Relish on this traditional sweet dish.
Relish on this traditional sweet dish.Photo: Rohan Fernandes

To prepare holle, a jackfruit leaf is rolled into a cone and secured with a toothpick or vir, rice flour paste is added to this cone, followed by the filling made of jaggery, coconut, channa and cardamom.

After sealing the top of the cone with some more rice flour paste, it is steamed for about 10-12 minutes. Once cooked, these cones are cooled, the leaves are then simply removed and the traditional flavors of holles are enjoyed.


Want a cake but have no eggs or sugar? No worries try this steamed alternative made in Goa. Mandos is a tea-time cake prepared using simple ingredients like freshly grated coconut, ukde tandul (red rice), jaggery, cashew nuts and cardamoms.

Mandos is a traditional tea-time cake.
Mandos is a traditional tea-time cake.Photo:

Grind the red rice (that needs to be soaked overnight) into a coarsely paste and keep aside. In a blender mix grated coconut, jaggery and water and add the ground rice paste and cardamom to this. Once it's of a batter consistency remove it into a greased pan and throw in some crushed cashew nut pieces for some crunch.

Cover it and place it in a komfro (a steaming vessel) that’s been pre-heated with water. Cook on a low flame and check with a toothpick to ensure it's done. Once cooled, demould and cut the mandos into desired pieces.

This sweet cake dish is generally relished with some futi chai (black tea) in the evening. They also make an appearance for special occasions like at the celebrations of a Catholic wedding.

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Shevyo/Shirvolyo (Rice noodles)

These are Goan rice noodles that are served along with a coconut- jaggery mixture. It is prepared using Goan par boiled rice, which are soaked overnight, ground into semi thick batter and steamed like idlis. While these rice cakes are still hot, they are passed through pressing/ shevyo machine and served with a freshly grated coconut and jaggery mix or some sweet coconut milk.

Shevyo are rice noodles served with a coconut- jaggery mixture.
Shevyo are rice noodles served with a coconut- jaggery mixture.Photo: @CookingAddiction

Shevyo is relished at any time of the day but is mostly eaten for breakfast or during tea-breaks. They can easily be purchased from stores managed by women self-help groups across Goa.

Alle Belle/ Mannkio (Goan pancakes)

Alle belle is a pancake traditionally stuffed with coconut and palm jaggery. This soft, mouth-melting sweet-dish is loved by people of all ages and is generally eaten in the evenings with a hot cup of tea.

To prepare alle belle, make a batter using flour, eggs, baking powder and water (or milk). Pour some of it on a greased pan and fry it like a dosa/ chapati. Once cooked remove the crêpes and add the stuffing made of coconut, jaggery and cardamom powder. Roll it from one side and serve.

This mouth-melting sweet-dish is loved by people of all ages.
This mouth-melting sweet-dish is loved by people of all ages.Photo: Venita Gomes

Alternatively, different kind of fillings can be added instead of the traditional one like a coconut-sugar and cashew nut filling, coconut -sugarcane jaggery filling and more. You can also add food color to the batter and make some vibrant crêpes that are very appealing to the eyes or even drizzle some honey.


Modak is a sweet that is offered to Lord Ganesh during the Ganesh Chaturthi festivities. It consists of an outer covering that is prepared using wheat flour, rice flour or all-purpose flour and a stuffing that is made of coconut-jaggery. These are either deep-fried or steamed.

Modak is a sweet prepared during Ganesh Chaturthi festivities.
Modak is a sweet prepared during Ganesh Chaturthi festivities.

Simply knead a soft dough of flour and divide it into smaller balls. Roll each of these into small discs. Place the stuffing made of jaggery, coconut and cashew nuts in the center and bring the edges together like a dumpling. You can either fry these modaks until golden brown or steam them.

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Khatkhate /Mila

Mila is a coconut-jaggery sweet that is found in sweet shops and even at annual fair stalls. However, you can easily prepare them at home using humble ingredients found in Goan kitchens such as jaggery, grated coconut, sesame seeds, peanuts and some water.

Mila is hard on the outside and chewier in the center.
Mila is hard on the outside and chewier in the center.Photo:

To prepare it, the jaggery is melted in a pan with some water. The rest of the ingredients are then added and everything is cooked until the mixture comes together. After cooling, it is shaped into a disc and decorated by pressing half a cashew nut on one side.

It is usually hard on the outside and chewier in the center with a slight hint of ginger and a nutty flavor. At a Goan house this sweet is mostly enjoyed after meals.

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