If you’re new to the Goan sweets scene, you could easily mistake those white diamond-shaped confections, in traditional snack outlets, for doce de grão, commonly called doce.
While doce de grão is made of chana dal, the primary ingredients of the white sweet, locally called cocada/kokad, is semolina and coconut.
The word cocada comes from the Portuguese word coco (translates to ‘coconut’ in English) – coconut being the chief ingredient of this sweet. With coconuts being available in abundance in the state, it is hardly surprising that not only curries, but even sweets, in Goa contain coconut.
Cocadas are a type of coconut sweet found in several countries of South America, the earliest reference being in 1878 in Peru. Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay and Venezuela, have their own variations – from hard to soft, and sometimes containing fruits and nuts.
The Goan version of cocada contains just a few ingredients, and can best be described as a firmer, sweeter version of sheera, with the delicate flavour of coconut thrown in. In addition, food colouring is also added so as to differentiate it from doce.
In Goa, cocada is a traditional Christmas delight, apart from being a delicious tea-time treat.
Recipe: Traditional Cocada
1 large semi-ripe coconut (reserve the water and grind the flesh till smooth)
¾ kg (3¼ cups) semolina (rava)
2 cups sugar, granulated
A pinch of salt
Powdered seeds of 8 green cardamoms
Put sugar and coconut water in a pan and make a syrup, adding plain water to make 4 cups of syrup.
Cook until lukewarm. Add semolina and allow to soak for one hour. Add ground coconut. Place pan on medium heat and cook semolina, stirring continuously.
When the mixture becomes fairly thick, add salt and cardamom powder.
Continue to cook, stirring continuously, till mixture begins to leave sides of pan.
Spoon onto a greased platter and cut into diamond shapes while still warm. Leave to cool.
The sweet may be cooled softer for immediate consumption, or to a hardness, when it will keep for a few weeks.
The more the sugar, the harder the sweet.
Plain water can be used instead of coconut water.
Pink or green colour can also be added, if desired.
RECIPE COURTESY: ‘The Essential Goa Cookbook’ by Maria Teresa Menezes.
The book is published by Penguin India and is available on Amazon.in and all leading book stores, including Broadway Book Centre, Panjim