As I probably must have mentioned before on this blog, making Indian sweets is not my forte. The number of bowls and equipment that get piled up in the sink in the process of making the simplest of sweets is very off-putting. And keeping in mind the time and effort that goes in the making of these delicacies [they are not as simple as they look], I like to save them for really special occasions.
One such occasion came up this weekend with the celebration on my parents’ wedding anniversary. A small puja was held to mark the event and the sweet I chose to make is one typically prepared on festive occasions, weddings and births or offered as prasad during religious ceremonies.
Ladoo [or laddu] is undeniably one of the most popular Indian sweet worldwide. Its characteristic spherical shape can be given to any number of ingredients – flour, semolina, wheat, coconut or ground pulses – flavoured with spices and nuts of your choice.
The one I have always been in love with is boondi ladoo, also the most painstaking to make, I’d say from experience. You should make them but on a day when you have enough free time to change your kitchen from the hopeless mess it will become to its initial reasonably presentable state. Or maybe get someone to clean up after you if you’re lucky :)
2 1/2 cups besan/chickpea flour
Water, to make a paste
Yellow food colouring
3 cups white sugar
3 cups water
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup golden sultanas
2 tbs toasted sesame seeds
Oil, for frying
- Start by preparing the sugar syrup. For this, combine sugar and water in a 1:1 ratio in a heavy-based saucepan.
- Heat the mixture over low heat until syrup thickens and reaches a one-thread consistency, i.e. it forms a thin thread as you touch it with the back of a spoon or a clean finger.
- Take off heat immediately but leave it near the stovetop so it stays warm and does not crystallise quickly.
- For the boondi batter, add enough water to the besan or chickpea flour so that it has a thick and runny consistency.
- Stir in food colouring until desired shade is reached.
- Heat oil in a heavy-based pan or kadai over medium flame.
- To make boondi ladoos it is essential to have a laddle with small equal sized perforations and a long handle.
- Hold this laddle over the hot oil. Pour 2 tbs batter over the holes and allow batter to drip into pan to form boondis.
- Fry the boondis till golden but do not make them crispy.
- You should be able to squeeze them between your fingers.
- Dunk every alternate batch of fried boondis in the sugar syrup and leave them for few minutes to absorb the syrup.
- Repeat above steps till you use up all the batter.
- If running short of time or feeling too lazy to make perfect even sized boondis, pulse these sugar soaked besan pearls for about a minute in the food processor.
- Cardamom and sultanas are pretty standard additions to the traditional boondi ladoo. Sesame seeds, almonds or nuts can be used to further enhance their flavour.
- To make the ladoos, take a handful of the boondi mixture in one palm and press to form a evenly sized ball. Do not apply too much pressure or you’ll end up with hard ladoos.
- Leave the ladoos to dry out so that the sugar syrup binds the boondis together and prevents the ladoos from crumbling.
- Makes about 25 meduim sized ladoos. These keep well in an air-tight container for about a week. Store in the fridge if you make them on a hot and humid summer day.