Ladoos (Sweet Indian Rounds) are an integral part of Diwali celebrations at Indian homes. Though Indian cuisine boasts of making ladoos out of a variety of ingredients, Diwali celebrations mostly involve Besan Ladoos (chickpea flour ladoos), Rava Ladoos (semolina ladoos) or a combination of both these ingredients Rava Besan Ladoos (chickpea flour and semolina ladoos).
My personal favorite ladoos are Rava Besan Ladoos. I think they just have the perfect texture which takes me to 'Ladoo heaven'! Not too soft like Besan Ladoos and not too gritty like Rava Ladoos. Now that does not mean I am not a fan of the other ladoos. I just have a soft corner for these cuties.
Everyone at our home likes simple ladoos. No fancy nuts or raisins in them. Maybe because that is how we remember eating them as kids when our ajjis made them. But you are free to add cashewnuts, almonds and raisins to this recipe. Just remember to toast the nuts well before adding them.
Now let us get to making these ladoos.
Serves: 20 medium ladoos
2 cups semolina/rava (fine)
1 cup chickpea flour/besan
6 tblsp ghee
2 cups + 2 tblsp sugar
1 cup water
3/4 tsp cardamom powder
2 pinch saffron strands
pinch of salt
Step 1 - In a heavy bottom pan, roast the semolina well on medium heat stirring continuously. Roast till it smells awesome and turns brownish. Keep aside to cool.
Step 2 - In the same pan, heat the ghee and roast the chickpea flour on medium heat till it turns golden brown in color. This mixture will not be dry like the semolina. It will form a paste. Take the pan off heat. Add the roasted semolina from Step 1 and mix well. Keep aside till we work with our sugar syrup.
Step 3 - In another pot, add the sugar and water. Start boiling on medium heat. Initially the syrup will foam up a lot. Keep boiling it for 5 mins. Till then you should see clear liquid bubbling. After 5 mins of rapid boiling, start testing the syrup. Dip a steel spoon into the syrup and stir it around well. Take out the spoon and swipe your index finger on the back of your spoon to test the syrup. Now touch your thumb to your index finger and gently pull the two fingers a little apart. A single thread should form in between these fingers. Keep joining and releasing these 2 fingers a couple of times rapidly. If you see a single thread form each time, you are done. Usually this should be achieved in 2 to 3 mins from your first boil.
Step 4 - Pour this sugar syrup into the dry mixture from Step 2. Mix well with a spoon. Make sure there are no lumps. Cover it and let this mixture rest till it cools down, absorbs all the syrup and thickens enough to form a ball.
If you make this on a warm day, the mixture could take 4 to 5 hours to cool down and thicken up. On the other hand, if you make this on a cold day it could take just 30 mins. So do keep an eye on it. Once you realize that you are able to press the mixture together, you are good to go.
Step 5 - When the mixture is still a little warm, add a pinch of salt, the cardamom powder and the saffron strands. Mix well. Let the mixture cool completely.
Step 6 - Take a heaped tblsp of mixture into your hand and just press it together till it holds shape. Once you have the mixture clumped up well, roll them in the center of both your palms till it forms a smooth ball. Do not apply pressure while rolling as this might break the ladoos. Also, when you start rolling you might realize that the mixture is not looking as smooth as a ladoo. Do not worry. Keep rolling it into a round shape with minimum pressure. The heat in your palms will mold it into a smooth ball.
If you are uncomfortable while rolling the mixture as it sticks a lot to your hand, you can apply some ghee on your palms before you start rolling.
We are done! Enjoy these any time of the day!
Hope you enjoy these ladoos as much as we do.
Even though it is true that the sugar syrup consistency is key to making ladoos, do not let that scare you. Try to get the one string consistency as correct as you can. This does take time.
Just remember that if you under cook the syrup, all that will happen is your ladoos will be soft and will not hold shape. They are not going to taste bad. And if you notice that you have boiled the sugar a little too long and now see 2 strings instead of 1 between your thumb and index finger, you have gone a little too far and you might not be able to roll out the ladoos well. When this happens, just put the ready warm mixture into a greased plate, cut them into squares or diamonds before they completely cool off and make Rava Besan Wadi (Bars) instead of round ladoos.
The sugar testing process has to be done by testing the syrup when it is hot. When you touch your steel spoon to test the syrup, do not try to take a lot of it on your finger. Do understand that it is boiling sugar that you are handling. Also, just a tiny amount is necessary to test the consistency. When I was new to making ladoos (I am fairly new even now), I was paranoid about touching the syrup. So I always kept a bowl of cold water right next to me in case I burn myself. It is only after a few tries that you realize that such small quantities don't really burn you.
If you want to add nuts to this recipe, toast them well and add them at step 2 when you mix the roasted semolina and chickpea flour.
If you want to add raisins, add them when you start molding the ladoos in Step 6. You need not fry or roast these.