Besan Ke Ladoo
I have never been fond of Indian sweets. But laddoo, especially Besan Ke Ladoo has always had a sweet corner in my foodie’s heart. Laddoo translates to a round ball; these treasured sweets of ghee, different flours, sugar, dry fruits and nuts. Just the mention of ladoo will make your taste buds drool. I have never made mithai at home. My super chef friend, Kalpana came visiting from Chennai and I learnt how to make them from her.
It is a vital part of our festivals and celebrations. Be it the birth of a baby, an engagement, wedding, the birth of a baby or the launch of a new enterprise, ladoos are ubiquitous on every propitious occasion as an expression of happiness.
Different ladoos from different regions
Every region in India has its own distinctive identity spiked with a unique history and tradition. Could be coconut ladoo from the south or motichur from the north, dinchake ladoo from the west or the til from the east; ladoos are loved universally.
Did you know that in times bygone, ladoos were considered as a medicine owing to the healing properties of their ingredients? They evoke our fondest and are considered to be a symbol of good luck as well.
Over the centuries, people from different areas started trying out whatever condiments was readily available in their region.
I am very proud to say that even we have the renowned Bandar or Tokkudu ladoo got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2017. They are famous in the coastal town of Machilipatnam or Bandar as it is popularly known, in Andhra Pradesh. They have their own recipe of ladoos, made from besan and jaggery.
In Indian homes, recipes come down from traditions, stories, from instinct, and the perfect taste comes from experience. For example, when I cook, I rarely ever measure ingredients. I instinctively know how much to make or use. If you ask me how long to roast the besan, I would say; until it smells roasted.
Roasting the Besan for Besan ke Ladoo
The first step to make Besan ke Ladoo is to roast the besan in ghee. Ghee adds a nutty, caramel flavour and helps preserve the ladoos for a fortnight.
After roasting the besan looks like a golden hue, emanates a nutty aroma, and converts into a rich, aromatic ingredient, needed for this sweet. It is vital to roast the besan on a medium-low flame while stirring constantly. This process guarantees that each granule of besan is roasting evenly; it also stops the besan from scorching and becoming bitter.
Once the long-drawn roasting is done, the heat is turned off and it is allowed to cool marginally; the sugar and cardamom powder is then added to it.
Finally, you get the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth consistency that this ladoo is known for.
Recipe for Besan Ke Ladoo
3 cup ghee or clarified butter
6 cups besan or gram flour, coarse
4 cups of powdered sugar
12 pods cardamom or elaichi
3-4 spoons of milk
A handful of halved cashew
Firstly, in a large Kadai heat 3 cups of ghee and add 6 cups of besan.
Roast on low flame until the besan is nicely combined with the ghee.
Continue to roast on low flame.
After 20 minutes, the besan starts to release ghee from the sides.
Continue to roast until the besan turns golden brown and grainy. It may take about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle the milk over the besan and keep stirring.
Now, remove from fire and allow to cool slightly.
Powder the sugar and cardamom in a blender.
Once the besan is slightly warm add in the powdered sugar.
Mix well making sure everything is well combined.
Finally, take about two tablespoons of the batter and squeeze it together in your palm a few times in order to form a small round ball.
Use only one hand. Lightly grease your palms with ghee, as this provides a seal around the laddoo. Add half a slice of cashew to every ball of ladoo.
If the mixture is sticking to your palm please wipe it off before rolling again.
As the laddoos cool, they convert from a soft, flaky consistency into a firm, solid mass.
Enjoy besan ladoos for 2-3 weeks in an airtight container.
The final booty of precious, compressed golden balls, with a crumbly centre, will melt into a soft, creamy texture on the tongue.
- The Gram flour should be preferably grainy
- Do not add sugar while the mixture is hot. As it will melt the sugar and makes the mixture watery.
- Sprinkle the milk all over and not pour it.