A ladoo (or laddu) is a very delicious and traditional Indian dessert popular throughout the country. They are basically round balls of sweet yummy goodness that can be made in a variety of flavors and textures. Ladoos are always made on holidays, festivals and special occasions – in fact, it wouldn’t be much of celebration if the ladoos were missing! This wonderful dessert is actually quite difficult to describe since there is nothing similar to it in the American/European dessert repertoire. I think the closest example would be a “non chocolate truffle” if that makes any sense. You will just have to trust me, but I am sure your family and friends will enjoy it!
My all time favorite ladoo variety is Besan Ladoo. Besan (aka Bengal gram flour or chickpea flour) is very commonly used in Indian cuisine and in this case – in a sweet dessert application. Besan is easily available in any large Indian market or Asian grocery store. I have seen also it in some large grocery stores and many specialty markets as well in the larger metropolitan cities.
Ghee is clarified butter, it’s basically pure butter with no water or milk solids. Ghee can easily be made at home or found in any Indian grocery store. In Marathi, the word for ghee is “tup” (thoop).
BESAN LADOO (Sweetened Chickpea Flour Balls)
2 cups besan (chickpea flour or Bengal gram flour), sifted
1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1 cup powdered or superfine sugar
½ tsp ground cardamom powder
¼ cup golden raisins, sautéed in a little ghee
¼ cup small pieces of chopped toasted almonds, sautéed in a little ghee
In a medium size heavy thick bottom skillet on medium heat, melt the ghee. Now slowly add the besan and let it cook until it turns a darker golden brown in color and becomes very fragrant. This may take up to 12-15 minutes, the besan should not have any raw taste or smell. Now turn off the heat completely and stir in sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar is completely melted & dissolved, then add in the ground cardamom powder. Lastly, stir in the raisins and nuts. Allow to cool slightly.
When the besan mixture can be handled, form into small round balls (ping pong size). Lightly oiling your hands really helps in this process.
Instead of chopped toasted almond pieces, you can use chopped toasted pistachios or chopped toasted cashew pieces.
Feel free to add 2 tbsp of rava/sooji (cream of wheat, fine variety) for texture. Just add it in along with the besan during the roasting process.