Whenever we think of coconut groves we think of the scenic shores of southern India. States like Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu boast of refreshing and sweet coconut water that is the must-have cooling drink during hot summer months. But, many would not associate coconuts with Tripura from North-East India. Yet, it is a fact that the Boroks of Tripura have been cultivating and eating coconuts from time immemorial. The Tripuri soil is conducive for coconut cultivation and produces a really sweet variety of the same. According to this report there is a further plan to increase coconut production in the state.
Coconut is called "narinkra" in the indigenous language and is considered an important element of all festivals and pujas. Earlier, the coconut had many more uses other than being served at religious rituals. The Borok community used to extract oil from it and use it as a moisturizer and hair oil. Today the art of extracting oil has been replaced by mass produced oil that comes in plastic bottles. However, I was lucky to meet an 80-year-old Shree Debbarma from Chandi Thakur Para who still knows the technique and was willing to show it to me. His mother used to make oil at home and he learnt it by watching her.
· Pluck 4-5 matured coconuts from the tree and after removing the husk break them all into two halves.
· Grate the coconut into a bowl. It is a time-consuming step but an important one.
· Separate the milk from the grated coconut. Squeeze it by hand. Collect the milk in a bowl.
· The last step is to boil the milk in a kadai. Once it reaches the boiling temperature, lower the heat and cook till the milk turns golden brown. The oil is ready.
This coconut oil can be used to moisturize the skin. You can also use it for cooking purposes. Store it in a container and it will stay fresh for months.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.