Guyanese Gojas (Fried Coconut Turnovers)

Fried sweets prepared and shared with loved ones are a mainstay of Phagwah, or Holi, a holiday celebrated by many in the South Asian diaspora each spring. Alica Ramkirpal-Senhouse, founder of the blog Alica's Pepperpot, learned to make these Indo-Caribbean coconut-stuffed fried handpies from her grandmother, Shelia. Freshly grated nutmeg and ginger are essential ingredients for the warmly spiced coconut filling. Serve them piping hot, soon after frying, for the best texture.

Guyanese Gojas (Fried Coconut Turnovers)
Purchase Holi Hooray color powder at Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Christine Keely
Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins



  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (about 9 5/8 ounces), plus more for work surface

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

  • ¾ cup cold whole milk

  • ½ teaspoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying


  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (about 6 ounces)

  • 1 tablespoon  plus 1 teaspoon light brown sugar

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons freshly grated ginger

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • .25 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Make the dough

  1. Whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add cold butter; rub together with your fingers until butter is coated in flour and forms fine crumbs. Make a well in center of mixture, and pour in milk. Using your fingers, swirl flour mixture into milk until a sticky ball forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead until mostly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, dusting lightly with flour if needed to prevent sticking. Rub dough ball all over with vegetable oil. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling

  1. Stir together coconut, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and vanilla. Stir well, and set aside.

  2. Divide dough ball evenly into 12 pieces (about 1 3/8 ounces each). Shape each piece into a ball, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, and keeping remaining balls covered, press ball into a 2-inch disk. Place dough disk on a lightly floured work surface, and roll into a 5-inch circle (about 1/8 inch thick), flouring as needed to prevent sticking. Brush edges of dough circle lightly with water. Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons filling over half of dough circle, leaving a 3/4-inch border around edge. Fold other half over filling, and press edges to seal. Crimp edges of dough using a lightly floured fork. Transfer goja to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat process with remaining dough balls and filling.

  3. Fill a medium-size Dutch oven with vegetable oil to a depth of 2 inches; heat over medium to 360°F. Working in batches, fry gojas, turning often, until evenly golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer gojas to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Serve warm, or let cool completely, about 20 minutes.

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