Bolina’s (Goan Semolina Cookies)

IMG_1992So, this year Christmas is at my house and to me that means one very important thing…

My dad is making Christmas Dinner.

*victory dance*

As you can probably tell, I LOVE when my dad cooks!! He’s one of those dads that absolutely has to man the BBQ regardless of whose house we’re at, has to make us a steak dinner if he comes across a nice piece of beef in the supermarket, and if we’re planning a family party at our house he will plan out an entire menu of the food he plans on making for the event.

And he will email it around to the rest of us.

I kid you not.

This is why he is my dad.

IMG_1986However, my dad is definitely a savoury minded person, so when it comes to desserts and sweet things… he leaves it to me! Oh the power.

Therefore, as Christmas is at my house this year, and as it’s a Goan tradition to have a plenty of ‘kuswar’ (festive sweet treats) to feed your guests, I figured I should probably make some more. Now, I’d already made Snowballs (or Nankhatai, a type of Indian shortbread cookie), so I decided I’d make another one of my favourite types of kuswar…


IMG_1996Bolina’s are cookies typically made with roasted semolina, fresh coconut and festively spiced with ground cardamom… and they’re delicious! They’re sometimes decorated with raisins, however I topped mine with dried cranberries and pistachios instead!

Red and green.

Because Christmas.

See what I did there? 😉

IMG_1883First I lightly roasted the coarse semolina in a frying pan over a medium heat, constantly stirring to prevent it from burning. Once it started to brown and give off a nutty aroma I removed it from the heat.

IMG_1823I then prepared the fresh coconut. Well, my mum did. Because that’s what mums do. If you can’t get your hands on a fresh coconut, you can use desiccated coconut instead (approx. 200g), however you may need to omit some flour as the cookies may end up drier.

My mum tackled the coconut by cracking it open with hard knocks around the middle with a massive cleaver. Make sure to collect the coconut water too! Don’t let it go to waste because that stuff is insanely good for you!

When picking out a coconut give it a good shake and make sure there’s a lot of water inside. If not, there’s a chance the coconut may have gone bad as the water could have drained into the shell/leaked out and spoiled the coconut flesh.

IMG_1831 IMG_1841 IMG_1845IMG_1870We then used our old school coconut scraper to remove the white flesh. If you don’t have a bench coconut scraper you can use a small knife to cut into meat and use a spoon to scoop it out. Take care not to get any brown fibres from the coconut shell in the coconut meat.

IMG_1878IMG_1908The coconut I used yielded approx. 220g of white coconut meat. I then made a thick coconut paste by adding the coconut to a food processor and blitzing it with a little bit of water.

IMG_1892In a heavy bottomed pan I added the sugar and the 125ml of water and heated this on a medium heat till the sugar dissolved. I continued to let this bubble, constantly stirring, till it formed a thick sugar syrup.

IMG_1898IMG_1917I then added the coconut paste, ground cardamom and ghee.

IMG_1923IMG_1945IMG_1937You should get a grainy watery mush. Yeah I know, I have a way with words.

IMG_1941I then poured in the semolina, flour and salt and mixed thoroughly to a smooth dough-like paste. I removed this from the heat and allowed to cool to room temperature.

IMG_1948 IMG_1955Once cooled, I added 3 egg yolks and mixed into the dough. Ideally you should then leave this to firm up overnight at room temperature, giving the semolina time to absorb the liquid and soften. However, if you’re in a hurry you could leave it to chill in a fridge for about 2 hours.

IMG_1962Once the dough was firm (didn’t come away on my fingers when pressed) I rolled it out into 1 inch sized balls and placed them on a lined baking tray. You may need to keep cleaning your hands as this dough/paste will start to coat your palms after rolling out a few of these bad boys!

I then pressed a cross into the tops with a knife, and placed a dried cranberry/pistachio in a few of them.

IMG_1966I baked these at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Leave these to cool and firm up before serving.

IMG_2012IMG_2009They also make a cute food gift too!


Bolina’s (Goan Semolina Cookies)
Author: Acorns & Custard
Serves: 35-40
  • 250g semolina, coarse
  • 1 fresh coconut, scraped (mine yielded approx. 220g)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 125ml water
  • 1tsp ground cardamom
  • 1tbsp ghee
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g plain flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • dried cranberries (optional)
  • pistachios (optional)
  1. Lightly roast the semolina in a frying pan over a medium heat. Take care not to burn it.
  2. Crack open the coconut and scrape out the white flesh. Blitz in a food processor using as little water as possible to form a thick paste.
  3. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the sugar and water over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to form a thick syrup.
  4. Stir in the coconut paste, ghee and freshly ground cardamom.
  5. Pour in the semolina, flour and salt and combine to form a thick, sticky dough-like paste.
  6. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  7. Once cooled, add the egg yolks and combine fully.
  8. Leave the mixture to firm up in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours, though ideally leave overnight at room temperature.
  9. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  10. Roll the dough into small balls (mine were about 1 inch in diameter) and place on a lined baking tray.
  11. Press a cross into the middle of each bolina with a knife. You may also want to add a nut/dried cranberry/raisin on top.
  12. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they begin to brown. Leave to cool and firm up before serving.


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