Goa, being a former Portuguese colony, has been heavily influenced by the Portuguese way of life in various aspects of Goan life. This is most apparent in the cuisine of Goa, especially the Catholic cuisine. Whether it is in every day cooking, festive or celebratory fare or dessert you can see the Portuguese flavour in the dishes not just in their names but also the fusion of Portuguese origin dishes cooked with local flavour and spices. Yet these are uniquely Goan (and so Indian) in nature.
So when I was looking for recipes to present as a host of this month’s Daring Bakerschallenge, other than the Mawa Cake and Masala Biscuits, I decided to pick a recipe from Goa as the Catholic cuisine here has a very wide variety of baked food.
My choice fell on the Bolinhas de Coco. Bolinhas are cardamom flavoured coconut and semolina biscuits (In India we call them biscuits and not cookies), and they contain no flour at all. They are a little crisp/ crunchy on the outside and soft and have a melt-in-the-mouth texture on the inside. The word “Bolinhas” comes from Portuguese and translates as “cakelets” but they are more of biscuits/ cookies than cakes.
I chose this recipe for two reasons. While this is a biscuit/ cookie that is not particularly challenging to make, it uses ingredients that are not normally found in the average biscuit/ cookie. Also, baking Bolinhas de Coco involves a procedure for the dough which is very unusual and fdfferent from that of any biscuit/ cookie that I’ve ever seen.
Instead of flour that’s ususally found in most biscuits/ cookies, these biscuits/ cookies are made entirely with semolina (the coarse and gritty kind and not the flour)and fresh grated coconut. Also, the batter involves an overnight rest of at least 8 hours so that the semolina can soak up liquids and become really soft. Only then are the eggs added and the biscuits/ cookies shaped and baked.
Nowadays these biscuits/ cookies are rarely made at home because you can easily find them in small bakeries everywhere in Goa, and they’re available all the year around. However, Bolinhas de Coco is a Christmas-time treat and a Goan Christmas sweet platter would be incomplete without them.
Bolinhas de Coco.