‘Ladoo’ is a sweet treat often found in Indian households, and specially made on festive or religious occasions. It is usually made with some variant of flour, sugar and ghee. There are hundreds of variants of this staple Indian sweet and its name also varies per region. Each family, region, community, etc. have their own recipe depending mostly on available local or traditional ingredients.
‘Besan’ is Bengal gram flour – is pale, light yellow in colour and slightly sweet, bitter and powdery in taste. It can be coarse or fine – both work well for this recipe. Upon cooking/roasting all of its bitterness goes away and the texture undergoes a lot of change too.
Besan is nutrient rich and gluten-free. It is high in protein, fiber content and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, etc.
2 cups Gram flour (Besan)
½ cup Ghee (clarified butter without preservatives)
1 cup Sugar – finely powdered (Not icing sugar or sugar with any additives like cornstarch)
1 tsp Cardamom powder
Raisins, almond halves or cashews halves (as per preference)
Start with the besan in thick bottomed broad wok/saucepan on medium heat. Stir the flour constantly to avoid burning it. In a separate bowl gently warm the ghee to a pouring consistency and keep ready.
Keep sautéing the flour to get a uniform heat distribution and toasting, till it goes from light yellow to a toasty darker yellow. You will be able to smell the nutty fragrance of the roasted flour.
At that point turn the heat to low, pour in the ghee and continue stirring. The consistency will be like a slurry. Ghee will heat up and homogenize with the flour. Make sure to turn over the mixture frequently from the bottom of the pan to avoid blotchy colour and burning.
Continue roasting for few minutes till there is bubbling around the edges and sizzling ghee can be seen separating along the edges. The colour will deepen to a rich golden yellow and it will smell delicately roasted. Taste a small amount of this mixture carefully, to check if the flour’s raw taste has now cooked off. If required cook for few minutes more.
Turn the heat to low. Add the powdered sugar and cardamom powder. Stir and mix well. Switch off the flame after a minute. Taste this mix carefully (very hot) to check for sweetness and adjust if needed.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
[NOTE: Depending on the weather (temperature and humidity) at your location the mix may harden as it cools because ghee is mostly solid at cooler room temperatures. But, unless the mixture has set to solid dry you should be able to scoop out handfuls with a metal spoon and begin rolling it into a ball- the heat from your palms will help warm up the mixture and make it workable as well.
In case you are in a very cold dry region, (to give an idea – in the late fall temperatures of DC too I have this problem with ghee based items) try working with the mix while it is still warm instead of waiting for it to cool.]
Roll into ping pong sized balls and press on a nut or raisin to the formed ladoo.
Store in airtight jars. Stays good for 2-3 weeks if stored in dry and cool place.
Eat these ladoos any time as a nutritious sweet treat.