Every year, on the first day of the Tamil month of Aadi, தேங்காய் சுடும் பண்டிகை (Coconut roasting festival) / thengai sudum pandigai is celebrated in many parts of Kongunadu especially in the areas of Namakkal, Erode, Salem and Dharmapuri. Its a very unique celebration that happens only in Kongunadu and not in the rest of Tamilnadu.
Here is a brief of how the coconuts are prepared.
The coconut is thoroughly cleaned and all the outer fiber layers are removed. Once the fibers are removed the three black spots can be seen. Its called as the three eyes of the coconut. One of the eye is punctured and the coconut water is drained. A mixture of beaten rice, lentils and jaggery is stuffed inside the coconut through the puctured hole. The drained coconut water is added back and the coconut hole is closed with a stick. A special stick called அழிஞ்சில் குச்சி / ஆழி குச்சி (Aali sticks) is used for this purpose.
A thick paste of turmeric is applied on the coconut and our coconuts are ready for roasting. The coconuts are fire roasted for about half an hour until its totally charred. The coconuts might blister while roasting.
A brief prayer and offering called padayal (படையல்) is made. Then the coconuts are broken and the inside mixture is mixed with the roasted coconuts and served. The slight smoky coconut along with the cooked beaten rice and jaggery is so delicious.
Here is a video of Rajan from my cousins farm describing about the festival.
Here is how you can make it at home.
Remove all the coconut fibers from the coconut. The three black spots / the eyes of the coconut should be visible.
Using a sharp object like a screw driver, puncture one of the eyes of the coconut with a hammer.
Drain all the water from the coconut. Make sure that the hole / puncture is wide enough for us to stuff beaten rice and lentils.
There are a lot of things that you can stuff the coconut with. The traditional ones are listed below.
Take about two tablespoon of each of the above said items and stuff the coconut. use a chopstick or a stick to push the rice and lentil and the jaggery mixture. Basically fully load the coconut. If you want a little sweet mixture, add a little extra jaggery.
After fully loading the coconut, gently pour some coconut water in the punctured hole.
Close the hole using a stick. I have used three chopsticks as that is all I could find at home and since 2020 is under lock-down, did not venture out and we did a roasting on the kitchen stove. Make sure that the coconut is completely covered and tight. Soaking the chopsticks in water for a couple of hours will help in preventing them from catching fire when roasted.
Mix a little turmeric with water and apply as a paste all over the coconut.
Place the coconut on the stove on a very high flame.
Roast until completely charred. It will take about 25-30 minutes. The coconut might blister while roasting and its completely ok.
Keep turning once in a while.
Once completely charred, remove and set aside to cool.
Break open the coconut and gently remove the stuffing and the coconut pieces. It should come off easily.
Chop the coconut into bite size pieces.
Mix it with the stuffing.
The charred coconut is so delicious.
Fantastic coconuts are ready!
Enjoy with family and friends.