Luscious laddoos

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These sweet round treats can tickle your tastebuds and bring back memories of festive fun… let’s get into some luscious laddoos!

Ganesh ladoo.Indian Link

Don’t we all love the oodles of festive food that we allow ourselves to indulge in to give true credence to the celebrations of our homeland?

Among the variety of savoury and sweet food, the hardest to resist would be the laddoos, sweet round balls of surprising variety, created lovingly with the finest of ingredients. I have childhood memories of Milkmaid coconut laddoos from a TV ad – they looked so easy to make and so delectable – everyone I knew tried making them, even the boys. Laddoos bring a touch of the traditional to one’s festive celebrations that are reminiscent of happy, carefree times.

And so this column is dedicated to laddoos, those old-fashioned favourites that are seeing a resurgence perhaps thanks to comeback star Sridevi, whose beautiful long hands made so many of them in her hit film English Vinglish!


english vinglish sridevi ladoo.Indian Link

 

Rava Laddoo
Growing up in the south of India, rava laddoos were a favourite ‘festival’ delicacy. And because I liked them during non-festival seasons as well, my mum learned how to make them, just for me. I got this simple recipe from her.

1 cup rava (sooji or semolina)
3/4 cup sugar
¾ cup water
3-4 tbsps ghee
3 tbsp cashewnut pieces
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp raisins

Roast the semolina in about 2 tbsp ghee till slightly brown. Fry cashewnuts and raisins separately, both in a little ghee. Drain on absorbent paper.
Mix the water and sugar to make a syrup. Bring to a boil. Keep stirring till a one-string consistency is reached. Lower heat and introduce the semolina. Keep stirring to prevent lumps from forming. Add in cashewnut pieces, raisins and cardamom powder. Mix well and take off heat. Cool till easy to handle. Then grease your palms and roll small handfuls of mixture into balls. Lay out single file to cool fully and harden. Store in an airtight container.

  ladoo-recipe.Indian Link

Doodh Peda
This recipe seems deceptively easy, until you try it. Bet you, you will have to give it at least a couple of gos till you get it right.

2 cups milk powder
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
½ cup milk – sufficient to make a soft dough
½  cup sugar
½ cup water
3 or 4 numbers cardamom, crushed, and roughly powdered pistacchio nuts to decorate.

Mix butter and milk powder, and add milk to make a soft dough. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Take out the dough and crumble it with your fingers breaking all the lumps.
Make sugar syrup of one strand consistency; put in the crumbled dough and keep stirring till it cooks and starts leaving the sides of the pan. Remove from heat.
While still slightly warm, make small balls and flatten slightly into peda shapes. Decorate with cardamom and pista powder on the top.

 

Microwave Doodh Peda
Ok, this is a cheat’s version, but hey, who has the time these days?

1 can condensed milk
1 cup whole milk powder
1 tbsp kewra essence or rose essence
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachio
2 tbsp unsalted butter

Mix together the condensed milk, milk powder, melted butter and the essence in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on high for four minutes. Remove and mix thoroughly. Put back in the microwave for another 2 minutes. Stir again and put back in the microwave further if needed – it should all come together in one mass. Remove and let cool briefly. Divide into balls of desired size. Sprinkle each with finely chopped pistachio.

ganesh_laddoo.Indian Link

Quickfix Malai Laddoos
This one is another super-cheat variety, but it does involve a bit of stove-work, if that makes you feel good…

½  cup condensed milk
250 gms paneer (cottage cheese)
2-3 drops kewra essence
¼  tsp yellow colour

Mash paneer well. Add condensed milk and cook on low heat, stirring constantly. Cook till thickened and it all comes together, leaving the sides of the pan. Add essence and remove from flame. Pour onto a plate and let cool somewhat. When still slightly warm, roll into little laddoos. Sprinkle powdered cardamom on top to decorate if you wish.

 

Til Laddoos
This recipe, passed on to me by a friend’s mum, I have yet to try.

1 cup til (sesame seeds)
3/4 cup sugar
¾ cup water
2 tbsps ghee
3 tbsp peanut pieces
3 tbsp pistachio pieces
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp raisins

Roast til seeds in ghee till slightly brown and set aside.
Mix the water and sugar to make a syrup. Bring to a boil. Keep stirring till a one-string consistency is reached. Lower heat and introduce the til seeds. Keep stirring to prevent lumps from forming. Add in peanut and pistachio pieces, raisins and cardamom powder. Mix well and take off heat.
Cool till easy to handle. Then grease your palms and roll small handfuls of mixture into balls. Lay out single file to cool fully and harden. Store in an airtight container. 

 

Chana Dal Pinni
I learnt this traditional delicacy comes from my mother-in-law, a fabulous cook. Pinnis are a winter favourite in Punjab, rich in warmth-producing ingredients. They are supposed to be large in size, but I prefer to make them into small balls. Most Punjabis will find the idea of ‘baby pinnis’ amusing, but I find them healthier (and more graceful!) to eat.

1 kg chana dal
3 ¾ litres milk
750 gms castor sugar
250-300 gms ghee
125 gms khaskhas
125 gms fresh grated coconut
100 gms sultanas or raisins
125 gms phool makhane (optional)
100 gms melon seeds (optional)
100 gms each cashew nuts, almonds and/or any other nuts, chopped.

Wash dal well and soak overnight in about 1 ¼ litres of milk. Grind to a coarse paste.
Put the remaining milk in a heavy-bottomed pan and add khaskhas and coconut. Bring to a boil and then keep stirring on low heat till the milk is completely reduced; cook till mixture is slightly browned. Remove from pan.
Add in the ghee and the ground dal and cook till the raw smell disappears and the dal begins to come together like a halwa. Add the khaskhas-coconut mixture and sugar and cook till well-combined. Add in the nuts and raisins and mix well.
Cool till easy to handle. Then grease your palms and roll small handfuls of mixture into balls. Lay out single file to cool fully and harden. Store in an airtight container.

Badabesankeladoo.Indian Link

Besan Laddoos
Another one I haven’t tried myself, but only because my family will surely turn up their noses at it, but an old-fashioned traditional kind of recipe.

1 cup besan
¾ cup sugar
1/4 cup ghee
3 tbsp cashewnut pieces
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp raisins
1/4 cup milk

Fry cashew nuts and raisins separately, both in a little ghee. Drain on absorbent paper.
Heat the rest of the ghee and add sifted besan and roast till fragrant and slightly golden brown. Introduce sugar and stir continuously.
When mixed in well, add cardamom cashewnut pieces, raisins and cardamom powder. Keep stirring. Now add milk, a little at a time, till it all starts to glisten. When it all comes together as one mass, take off heat.
Cool till easy to handle. Then grease your palms and roll small handfuls of mixture into balls. Lay out single file to cool fully.
Decorate with fresh grated coconut if you like.

 

Coconut Laddoos
This recipe was shared by a close friend Shanti, who gently chided me when I told her I was going to make Milkmaid laddoos like I saw in that childhood TV ad. Grow up, she said, and try the real thing. And then proceeded to tell me she uses evaporated milk instead of boiling real milk down. Ha!

2 1/2 cups fresh grated coconut
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp powdered cardamom
3-4 cardamom pods
2 cups evaporated milk

Put milk in a heavy-bottomed pan and throw in the cardamom pods. Bring to a near boil and add in the sugar. Mix till dissolved and then turn down heat. Introduce coconut. Continue stirring on low heat, till milk all but dries up. When it starts to come away from the sides, put in cardamom powder and continue stirring, but make sure not to dry it up too much. A good way to know if it is done, is to take a small handful and try to shape into a ball. If it sticks to your palms, you need to cook it some more. Take off heat and let cool somewhat. Shape into laddoos while still warm, and allow to cool and harden.