Goan Christmas sweets really test your love and patience for it. Doce is an integral part of the Christmas goodie platter and it requires intense stirring! But the effort is worth the delicious flavor and you cannot be satisfied with a few pieces.
Since almost all Goan sweets are loved and are popular, they are commercially available in Goa throughout the year. There are quite a few locals who supply traditional sweets and other popular eats from Goa to Mumbai and Pune. Some commercial stores in Goa do sell good quality sweets but as we all know homemade ones are always fresh and you can maintain the quality.
Now, you can make your own Chonya Doce using a small quantity of ingredients with ease. The recipe for Doce de Grao given below will give you a firm exterior and a melt in the mouth interior. Those who prefer a very hard and dry texture will have to stir even more but our preference is lightly firm and delicately soft texture.
The intense stirring really gave my arms a thorough work out but it was worth it! My family is still relishing and savoring this beautiful traditional sweet. Follow the steps carefully and yours will be successful too. 😀
- 200 gms. Chana Dal (split Bengal Gram without skin)
- 400 gms. Sugar
- 1 ½ fresh Coconut (scraped; only the white flesh)
- A pinch – Salt
- 6 pods Green Cardamom (peeled & freshly powdered)
- 1 tbsp. Ghee
- Liquid ghee – for greasing
Wash and soak chana dal in enough water for about 3 hours.
Pressure cook the chana dal until soft with just enough water to cook it.
Grind the soft dal along with the residual water if any, into a fine, smooth and thick paste.
Transfer this paste into a sufficiently wide and thick bottomed dekchi/handi/pot/non-stick pot or in the pressure cooker body. (I like to use the pressure cooker body as I can grip the handle firmly and comfortably while stirring).
Next, grind the scraped coconut with minimum water as possible to a very fine, smooth and thick paste.
Add the coconut paste, sugar and a pinch of salt to the chana dal paste.
Cook on medium heat.
Keep stirring continuously while on heat. It is preferable to use a wooden spoon with a long handle.
At first, it is very easy to stir as the sugar will melt and the mixture will have a soft, mushy texture.
As the mixture begins to thicken; be alert and be prepped up!
Beware! There will be a lot of activity in the mixture… lots of bubbling and spluttering. This is where the wooden spoon with a long handle is a blessing!
It’s time to use all your energy to stir vigorously…
Keep stirring vigorously and continuously.
As the mixture starts thickening further, it will slowly start leaving the sides of the pan and you can see the bottom of the pan while stirring.
Be alert or the mixture may stick to the bottom and burn.
Add in the cardamom powder and stir to mix well.
Now it is really going to get difficult to stir.
The idea is that the mixture should have minimum moisture and should start coming together to form a ball.
Add the ghee and give it a good final stir.
Immediately toss the contents on a well greased clean kitchen counter or a sufficiently thick and large wooden board. Smoothen and shape either with your rolling pin or a banana leaf.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to about 1 cm thickness.
When warm to the touch, cut into desired shapes and sizes. Arrange on trays with enough room between the pieces of Doce.
Allow the pieces of Chonya Doce to cool down completely before serving or storing.
On cooling and drying you will get a firm crust on the outside and a reasonable amount of softness just like barfi when you bite and savor it.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Tips & Suggestions:
- If you wish to store for a long time, then you need to have minimum moisture in your Doce de Grao. For this you need to keep cooking further to help evaporate the moisture even though it has formed a ball. This is so because chana dal paste is really very difficult to handle. Besides, you need to dry the pieces of Doce naturally before you store. It is better to store in an airtight container and always refrigerate if you are thinking of long period storage or if you want to make it well in advance. The quality can deteriorate due to two reasons viz. moisture & coconut if not refrigerated. Usually, homemade Doce is made just a few days before Christmas.
- For sharp cuts and neat pieces, use a long sharp knife. After every cut, first wipe with a damp cloth and then with a dry cloth or tissue before the next cut.
- If you like your Chonya Doce hard, then do not add ghee in the final stage.