Belonging to a zamindar family ... that too on a coast ..... automatically brings along a lot of privileges that we children took for granted .... only until we left home and set up our own homes.
One of them is the abundant supply of coconuts in the house. Later, when we grew up we came to know that all the rice our big family (read joint family .... with numerous relatives and relatives' relatives visiting at any time the year round) and numerous big and small guests consumed, came from our fields in the villages our family 'owned'.
Of course not to mention the fish part of our daily diet from our pond in Dadu's house. Only on occasions like weddings and others .... where huge number of guests had to be fed .... the fish and prawns on the menu came from the ponds of our villages on the coast.
Coconut was something the 'Godam ghor' ( store house ) always had. Huge piles of browning ones ...when you pulled out one... a few others rolled down .... having us kids running away as fast as we could .... squealing at the imaginary enemy coming down at us. :-))
The tender green ones were consumed for water. But the others were used almost daily. Fresh coconut would be grated and used with chire ( pressed rice ) / muri ( puffed rice ) for breakfast. Or on vegetable dishes. And the very dry ones would be used by Thamma to make coconut oil.
Narkel bhaat .... though an occasional dish ... was a favorite .... and still is. It is a slight variation of the usual Bengali "Mishti bhaat" or "Sweet rice". These days coconut milk is so easily available .... we don't have to shudder when we think of making narkel bhaat or prawn malaikari.
Need : 1 cup Basmati rice (washed ), 2 packets of coconut milk ( I used the 200 ml ones), sugar, ghee, whole garam masala ( dalchini ( cinnamon) , green elaichi( cardamom) ,tej patta (bay leaves) ), whole red chillies, a pinch of salt, kaju and kishmish (cashews and raisins).
How to : Heat ghee in a heavy kadhai. Add the garam masalas, tej patta and red chillies.
Add the rice and fry for some time on low flame.
Then add the kaju and kishmish and the coconut milk. Add sugar ( just enough sugar to give a very light sweetness to the rice).
Add a pinch of salt ( just to complement the sweetness ). Cover and cook till rice is done.
Serve hot. Goes great with any spicy dish with gravy.