There’s always a first time 1


First time is always a new experience. For instance, the festivals that fall in the fist year of marriage are always a big deal. Ganesh Chaturti is one of those for us. It is a really big deal back home and I was mighty excited about going to Bengaluru and soaking in the festivities, indulging in the special food and just generally having fun with the family.

But since this one was so special, I wanted to make something to mark the occasion. I’d been wanting to make Besan laddoos for the longest time, the husband loves them and I’d been looking for an occasion to make them at home.

I didn’t want to go wrong with it because it was going to be used as a part of the prasad for the festival. This also threw up another challenge – I couldn’t taste any of this until the puja was done. And for a first-timer, this was slightly intimidating. So I called an aunt who is quite the expert and she advised me to go by my nose, this helped because I have the habit of smelling the stuff that I’m cooking. In the process of making these laddoos I realised that I was running out of besan and there wasn’t enough time to run down to the store and get some more because I had a flight to catch, in about, say, two hours! So I scratched my head a little and wondered what to do? A container of wheat flour was staring at me and at the same time I remembered I’d some ragi (finger millet) flour too, so I used a little bit of each because I didn’t want the taste of the besan to be masked. The result was that the laddoos got an extra nutty flavour, which was also enhanced by the roasted cashews that I added.

Besan laddoos
(Adapted from The Konkani Saraswat Cookbook by Asha Philar)
Makes 12-14 laddoos

1 1/2 cups of besan (chickpea flour)
1/3 cup of wheat flour
1/3 cup of ragi flour (finger millet)
1 3/4 cup of powdered sugar (measure the sugar after powdering it)
3 green cardamoms, peeled and seeds powdered
3/4 – 1 cup of ghee
2 tbsp of cashewnuts
4 tbsp of milk
A handful of raisins

The raw material

Sift the flours together and keep them aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1tsp of ghee in a pan and roast the cashewnuts in this until they turn a golden brown. Let them cool down a bit and then crush them.

Heat the ghee in a pan, when it melts add the flour and roast it on a low flame. This requires some amount of time and patience; you have to keep doing this until the colour changes and it begins to smell a little nutty. When this is done, turn off the flame and allow it to cool down a little.

After the flour has cooled down, in about 5-7 minutes, add the powdered sugar, cardamom powder and crushed, roasted cashewnuts to the mixture and combine it well. Let it cool down some more, until it reaches a temperature where you can handle it with your palms.

Sprinkle some milk over this and mix again. Now take some of the mixture and shape it into balls using your hands. Press a raisin on the surface of each one of these. Allow the laddoos to dry out for about 30-40 minutes. Store in an air-tight container for up to 10 days.

* You can use only besan as well for this recipe, in that case you can use 2 1/2 cups of it.
*I’ve added the cashewnuts just to enhance the flavour, you can use almonds too as they’re nutritious or you can leave out the nuts completely.
* The trick to this laddoo is cooking the besan really well. The only way you will know this is from the nutty aroma that it gives out, it can go from being cooked just right to almost burnt in a matter of seconds so keep your eye on the pan!

I’m sending this to Spotlight: Festive Treats at Cuisine Delights


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