Learn how to make Mangalore Bonda Sharbat ~ Tender coconut sherbet or tender coconut lemonade
“Echara, we want some bonda. Please!” pleaded a girl with two missing front teeth and two pigtails bouncing as she jumped up and down with her sister and cousins.
“Let me first finish peeling these arecanuts, and then I will get you kids the tender coconuts”, said Eshwara.
“No, we want you to come with us right now. We are very, very thirsty”, said all the kids in unison.
“There is no escaping from you little brats”, said Eshwara as he smiled indulgently.
He got up from the low seat of wooden plank with a blunt moon shaped knife designed especially for peeling the skin of arecanuts. Wiping the sweat from his forehead with the towel tied around his head as a turban called mundaas, once red when it was new and now turned a shade of burnt rust after many washes, he flexed his five feet short body and joined us as we bounced along a narrow footpath around grandma’s ancestral two-storey art deco styled house with huge panelled windows.
As the kids crossed the narrow footbridge without rails made of areca nut tree trunks across the gurgling stream winding close to the house, they were welcomed by the sight of tall areca nut palms swaying to the warm afternoon breeze. The delightful sight of lush green carpet of grass on a foot path and the green wines of peppercorns hugging areca nut trees weighed down by raw green and ripe red peppercorns were delight to the eyes of children. The kids skipped along the neat rows and columns of areca nut trees with the yellow butterflies and the dragonflies fluttering around them. The afternoon sun streaming through the thick foliage turned this ordinary farm into a beautiful magical land!
Soon they all gathered around a tall majestic three stories high coconut tree. This, according to Eshwara was the best one among hundreds of coconut trees in the farm, weighed down by few dozens of huge tender coconuts filled with sweet nectar in their bellies. He quickly tightened the lungi, a South Indian attire of sarong like cloth tied around the waist, and tucked bottom ends behind to form a kaccha which helped him climb the tree without restricting his moves. Climbing the coconut trees needed a great skill and Eshwara was the very best among the bunch of workers in the farm. The kids watched in fascination as he picked the moon shaped sharp sickle and tied it safely around his waist. Next he took two feet long rope and tied the two ends to tight knot to form a ring. Then he quickly put this ring of rope around his ankle which aided him in climbing the tree by keeping his feet tightly gripped to the tree trunk.
As he climbed the tall coconut tree in swift moves by grabbing the tree trucks with his hands and feet and moving up in sync, the kids imitated him by trying to climb the trees around only to fall on their bottoms with a thud after climbing a mere meter! This was a tough job and it took years of experience to master, even though the man who was climbing that almost four story tall tree made it look so effortless in spite of the fact that he had nothing to hold on to if he lost the grip! As Eshwara expertly climbed the tree, the kids squinted their eyes by shading their eyes with their palms against the harsh afternoon sun to see him cover the last few meters before grabbing the palm leaves. The kids who were standing right under the tree all this time moved half-heartedly to stand in a safe distance as Eshwara shouted from the top of the trees before removing the sickle tucked safely around his waist.
Dud-dud-dud… The tender coconuts were dropped on to the soft grass as he expertly cut them from the bunch before he was satisfied that he had enough to make the kids not bother him for couple of days more. It took him half the time to literally slide down the tree and it didn’t take long to be surrounded by a bunch of squealing kids. As he asked the kids to choose the tender coconut, the kids ran around the tree searching for the biggest one they could find for themselves. He once gain reached for the sickle tucked around his waist and chopped the head of tender coconuts with quick movements before making a small hole in the centre. The kids waited eagerly till everyone was holding a tender coconut in their hands as they loved competing with one another to see who would finish the drink first. It’s an art to drink the juice without a straw and without spilling a single drop! Once they finished drinking the water, the empty shell were passed on to Eshwara who expertly cut off the tear-dropped shaped spoon from the side of the shell before slicing it in half in one single blow. The tender, sweet, jelly like flesh was scooped out with a help of a spoon and the winner always was rewarded with the spoonful of the tender coconut flesh or meat from everyone and it, my dear readers, was the best reward any kid could ask for!
Bonda (pronounced as bonn-Da) is a local name for tender coconut in Udupi-Mangalore. This is one of the best and most refreshing thirst quencher with many health benefits. With high potassium and mineral contents, it makes the perfect re-hydrating drink for hot summer days. Unlike aerated drinks, the tender coconut juice is fat free and very refreshing and is safe for even the most sensitive tummies! In spite of our love this healthy drink, we Mangaloreans do sometimes get tired of drinking it every day in a land of coconuts and as a solution, we have come up with this Bonda Sharbat, tender coconut lemonade!
There are two ways to prepare this Bonda Sharbat. One where you add basil seeds and the second where you add chopped jelly-like tender coconut meat. Both the versions have freshly squeezed lemon juice to zing to it and today I am sharing the second version of the Bonda Sharbat. You can add or completely leave out the sugar depending on how sweet the tender coconut juice is. It’s a very simple thing to put together and makes a perfect drink to serve for summer birthday parties for kids and adults alike. So what are you waiting for? Go and make some refreshing Bonda Sharbat and keep yourself healthy and cool this summer! :)
Mangalore Bonda Sharbat (Tender coconut sherbet or tender coconut lemonade)
Prep Time: 5-10 mins
Cooking Time: N/A
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: N/A
Serves: 4-5 People
Shelf Life: Best served fresh but can be refrigerated for a day
Serving Suggestion: As a refreshing summer drink
Juice from 2 large Tender Coconuts, chilled in refrigerator for 2 hours
½ cup Malai/Tender Coconut Flesh, roughly cut into small pieces
½-1 cup Chilled Water (Optional)
2-4 tbsp Sugar (I have used brown palm sugar. Adjust as per taste)
2-3 tbsp or 1 small Lime/Lemon Juice (Adjust as per taste)
A pinch of Green Cardamom Powder (Optional)
A pinch of Salt
- Add lemon/lime juice, salt and sugar in chilled water and stir them well until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add tender coconut juice and cardamom powder and mix them well. Add more sugar if needed.
- Serve this refreshing chilled Bonda Sharbat or Tender Coconut Lemonade and enjoy!
- You can replace cardamom powder with a pinch of saffron for different flavour.
- You can also add a tbsp of sweet basil seeds soaked in water for about 30 mins.
- Adjust the amount of sugar and lime juice as per taste.