• Coconut semolina balls (rava laddoo) (Anjali Nambissan)Source: Anjali Nambissan

This is a popular South Indian sweet dish from Kerala – the land of coconuts. It's rolled out for festivals such as Onam, Vishu and Deepavali. I learned to make it from my aunty - her version uses ghee, which I swapped for coconut oil to make them vegan.






Skill level

Average: 4.2 (20 votes)


  • 100 ml coconut oil
  • ½ cup cashew nuts
  • 2 cups fine semolina
  • 125 ml (½ cup) coconut cream, for greasing hands
  • 1 cup finely grated fresh coconut (see Note)
  • 110 g (½ cup) raw sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time: 30 minutes

Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Melt 20 ml of the coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the cashews and toast until lightly coloured. Remove and spread over one of the lined trays.

Return the pan to medium-low heat, melt the remaining 80 ml (⅓ cup) coconut oil, add the semolina and toast, stirring continuously, until a light dusty brown. Semolina burns very easily, so keep an eye on the pan.

Add the sugar and continue to cook until the semolina and sugar combine to give off a sweet, nutty aroma. The entire mixture should have turned a caramel brown by now.

Spread the mixture over the baking tray and leave to cool.

Add the cashews and coconut shavings and mix well.

Use the coconut cream to moisten your palms, then roll the mixture into small compact balls.

Serve at room temperature.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge if the weather is hot.


Cook’s notes

• Fresh coconut (from a mature coconut, not a young one) works best with this recipe, but if you don’t have any, soak 1 cup of desiccated coconut in about 125 ml (½ cup) coconut cream for 15 minutes. Drain before using. 


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