Goan Dodol

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Dodol is a jelly like firm sweet with a texture similar to ‘halwa’. It is popular not only in Goa, but also in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Burma, Zanzibar and some Middle Eastern countries including Iran. 

This sweet is also served as part of the Christmas platter. It is better to prepare it just a few days before Christmas to enjoy the fresh taste. Dodol has a unique, sweet flavor of Goan Pyramid Jaggery and a luscious, creamy taste of fresh coconut milk. The rice flour is the binder of this sweet ‘halwa’. It is rich in flavor and high in calories and should thus be enjoyed in moderation.

Even though Dodol is available commercially, it makes a home maker feel proud to make her own to serve at Christmas (even though it is quite a back breaking task). It is a little difficult to prepare traditional Goan sweets single handedly but if members of your family, friends or a helper chip in during the intense and vigorous stirring, it gets much easier.

It is not so tedious to make a small batch of this exquisite Dodol. So here is the recipe meant for home cooks, which can be prepared in your home kitchen this Christmas. Enjoy! J
Ingredients

120 gms. unroasted Goa Red Rice paste/flour
400 gms. Goa Pyramid Jaggery
2 fresh Coconuts (scraped/grated) or packaged
A pinch – Salt
1 tsp.fresh Green Cardamom pwd.


Pre-preparation:

Grease with liquid ghee/oil, a loaf tin or a square baking tin or as per your preference.

Grind the coconut to a fine paste with enough lukewarm water and extract thick milk. Add some more water and get a second extract of thin milk. Keep both the extracts in two separate bowls. Measure the second extract. Depending on the quantity of the second extract of coconut milk (number of cups) you need to measure the water in measuring cups. So the total including the second extract of coconut milk should amount to 3 cups of liquid. Combine the thin coconut milk with water.

If you wish to use fresh Goa Red Rice paste then; wash, soak the rice over night, drain, grind to a very fine paste and mix with second coconut milk extract and water as mentioned above.

In a sufficiently large bowl, mix the rice flour with the water mixture. It is preferable to use a whisk so that you get a mixture which is smooth and without lumps.


Procedure:

Break the jaggery into small pieces and place in a wide and thick bottomed handi/dekchi/non-stick pot or pressure cooker body.

Add one cup of water and melt it on medium heat. Stir while it melts. Do not leave unattended or the jaggery may stick to the bottom and burn. (As I said earlier, it is better to use a pressure cooker body as you can grip the handle while stirring).

After the jaggery has melted completely into a syrup, strain it through a sieve to remove traces of sediment, if any.

Pour the syrup back into the vessel. Cook on low heat.

Stir the rice flour or paste mixture again and pour into the jaggery syrup.

Stir quickly to avoid lumps. Make sure it is well combined.

Add the thick coconut milk and salt and stir well.

Stir to cook on medium heat. Keep stirring continuously. Keep your focus and be alert throughout the process.

 At first, it is easy to stir but gradually, the mixture will start thickening.

Add the cardamom powder (if using) and stir to mix well.

 As the mixture starts thickening further; it is time for vigorous and intense stirring. Make sure it does not burn at the bottom.

With time, the mixture will start turning dark, thick and glossy.

You need to be very brisk and quick. It is important for the mixture to have minimum moisture so it needs intense cooking and stirring to allow maximum evaporation.

Stir till it starts leaving the sides of the pan and has minimum moisture. (It is a very difficult task but you can try your best to achieve best results!).

Pour into a greased tray/pan/tin and make sure you smoothen and level the mixture immediately with a spatula or banana leaf. It is a good idea to have a helper to do this. The mixture will tend to set very quickly so it is necessary to level the Dodol mixture before it sets!

Let the Dodol cool completely before you slice it.

Slice the Dodol into desired thickness and pieces.

Serve and enjoy at Christmas.

Tips & Suggestions:

Usually red rice (Goa rice) is used for this sweet but many do use brown rice or even black rice to make Dodol. Fresh rice paste is usually used in Goa and many other countries but rice flour can also be used. Some make the Dodol with nachani/ragi/millets as well. 

It is the dark Goa Pyramid Jaggery along with red rice flour/paste which gives the Dodol its rich and deep dark color.  Some people do like to use palm jaggery.

If you are unable to get fresh coconuts then you may use packaged coconut milk or coconut cream.

When you extract fresh thick coconut milk from the coconuts it should be 200-250 ml. I use a measuring cup which holds 250 ml. of liquid. A little more thick coconut milk is fine but if less may affect the texture and flavor of the end product i.e. Dodol. The amount of yield of coconut milk also depends on the size of the coconut and the thickness of the flesh. A very important factor determining the final taste also depends much on the quality of the coconuts.

Addition of cashew nut nibs in the Dodol is optional.

For a neat and perfect cut dip the knife in hot water, wipe clean and slice. You need to do this after every cut.

It is a good idea to pack individual slices in cling film and store in a cool place; preferably in the fridge. Thaw and serve only required pieces.

Moisture is the enemy of sweets containing coconut. Make sure you refrigerate in air tight containers/plastic wrap/cling film or foil.

Frequent changes in temperature and contact with moisture can change the flavor and texture of the sweets so to retain freshness, quality of texture and flavor as much as possible, always remove them from the fridge in small batches or only just what is needed.


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