With few festive celebrations falling within a fortnight, I had more than our regular requirement of coconut at home. As I was chopping the coconut to run it in the mixer, to freeze it, my husband suggested I make something with it. We then discussed some sweet dishes when he asked me "how about kamarkhat?" It brought back a flood of memories from our childhood. These were simple sweets that were usually sold outside the school gates.
Those days not many of us were given pocket money to spend nor were we allowed to just buy anything that were sold so in the open. We were advised against buying from any such vendor as it was not hygienic. My parents and grandparents were sure happy to please us with better stuff, home made or store bought, but buying any such which carried potential threat of illness was a definite "NO". Thus we have even been treated with such sweets home-made only.
However, we have all had 'bites' from friends who bought them occasionally. Giving what is called 'kaakka-kadi' always was a thrill as much fun putting something on the floor and trying to break pieces with whatever you could lay your hands on. Those are days that will never come back however much you want them to. No cares, no worries only the fear of being caught red handed and being disciplined.
One sweet I really want the manufacturers to bring back in the market is the small coin size coconut toffee wrapped in transparent cellophane paper with 'parrys' written in white on it. It is the ultimate refined version of kamarkhat, I would say.
However, I took upon myself to fulfill my husband's wish buy making the crude -school gate vendor- style kamarkhat with the coconut that I had then.
In all you need three ingredients, little water and few drops of ghee or oil to grease your palms. And you can create these wonder fudges. You can alter the consistency too according to your taste. I liked them hard and made them so. You can shape balls or can spread and cut squares, choice is all yours.
2 cups finely shredded coconut
2 cups powdered jaggery
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon rice flour
Coconut oil to grease your palms
Make sure that the coconut is in fine scrapes. Run it in your chutney grinder if there are bits to make them fine.
Place a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat and roast the shredded coconut until lightly brown. Transfer to a dish and set aside. Add the rice flour to the coconut. You may add powdered cardamom if you desire to flavour your kamarkhat, but it is usually plain.
Meanwhile dissolve the jaggery in the water, strain out the impurities. In the same pan boil the dissolved jaggery to achieve a hard ball syrup. Check for the consistency by pouring out a teaspoon of syrup in a small bowl of water, rolling it in a ball and dropping it back into the water. If it drops with a clang, the consistency has been achieved.
Now lower the heat to the minimum and quickly transfer the prepared coconut - rice flour mix into the solution. Give a few quick, brisk stirs and switch the heat off.
Keep stirring until the whole blends and can be gathered in a huge lump.
Allow to cool just a bit and pinch out marble size portions. Grease your palms and roll the pinched out portions in balls. Place them slightly apart from each other on a flat dish. Allow to cool and store in airtight jars.
If you choose to not roll them in balls, grease a flat surface and spread the blend evenly with a rolling pin. Cut small squares or desired shapes.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable sweet which can be cooked without much effort and made in bite sizes to pop in your mouth when you crave for a sweet.
Since the coconut is roasted well, this can be stored for a few days at room temperature.