It is perhaps fitting that the final post in this Indian Christmas series of mine is about the much loved festival sweet, the Nevri. Nevries (also called Nevreo/ Neurio) are perhaps the most important part of the Christmas platter of treats called Kuswar or Consoada in Goa. These half-moon/ crescent shaped sweet puffs are filled with a cardamom flavoured coconut and semolina filling and are very popular with adults and children alike. They are light and crisp on the outside, and soft and sweet on the inside. They are never too sweet and given their taste and texture, tend to disappear soon after they make an appearance on the table!
This is a sweet that no one religion can claim as its own as it is very much a part of both Hindu and Christian celebrations in Goa. Originally a Hindu preparation and prepared for Ganesh Chathurthi Goa, this sweet puff is made with a variety of fillings. It can be made with a sugary semolina and coconut filling or with a lentil and jaggery filling. The Nevri that is made for Christmas here is filled with coconut and semolina. One can use fresh coconut in the filling but it will not keep for more than a day or two whereas it will last much longer if dessicated coconut is used instead of fresh.
There are many versions of this sweet puff, some with different fillings and some shaped more decoratively depending on which part of the country they’re made in, but all half-moon shaped and delicious. It is invariably festive fare and made for a variety of festivals including Ganesh Chathurthi, Holi and Diwali. So you will find Nevries being also being referred to as Gujiyas, Karanji, Kajjikaya, Kadubu, etc. You will also find the occasional savoury version, sometimes called Ghugaras, too.
You will usually find the coconut filling in Nevries uses either fresh coconut or dessicated coconut. Those with fresh coconut have a shorter shelf-life than Nevries with dessicated coconut. I chose to use half of each as fresh coconut lends moistness to the filling that is really a nice contrast to the crunchy texture of outer skin of the Nevri.
Nevries aren’t very difficult to make but rolling the dough, filling and shaping them is what takes a lot of time. So if you can find family or friends who are willing to help out then you just need to assign tasks to people, set up an assembly line and you’re in business. If you have to do this on your own, then you need to plan to keep aside a couple of hours at least. I spent the larger part of the day making mine, as my effort was a one-man show. And wouldn’t you know, it was only when my hands were in the flour that my phone would ring, the courier deliveryman would decide to turn up and our puppy would decide to start some mischief?
There are moulds available for shaping Nevries, if you can find them though you don’t really need them. However shaping them without moulds isn’t difficult. I prefer to use a pastry cutter to cut out circles out of the dough and then fold them over the filling. This means I have to roll out the dough about 6 or times (for this recipe) instead of rolling out small individual circles (about 40 of them!). The cutter also ensures that my Nevries are all the same size.
Do check out this video which shows how to make Nevries/ Gujiya. The recipe and filling are different but the method is much the same.
Before the recipe, I would like to wish all those who celebrate a very Merry Christmas and say “Happy Holidays” to all my readers and friends.
Nevries/ Nevreo (Half Moon Shaped Sweet Puffs Filled With Coconut And Semolina)