Deepawali 2019 – The Laddu Saga

Laddu might be a favourite sweet for many. Any type of Laddu, called ‘Urundai’ in Tamil, denotes, sweet balls made with different ingredients… like neiurundai/split green gram laddu, kadalai maavu urundai/bengal gram laddu or the unavoidable thengai urundai/coconut laddu.

These traditional urundais are healthy with the roasted lentils, in comparison to the white flour based creamy sweets. With new age food therapies from bloggers like me, there are other healthier versions – flax seed urundai, ragi urundai, and other millet based sweet balls.

But, no one can beat the Boondi Laddu. The King/Queen of Laddus in the south is the boondi laddu and, in the north of India, it is the ‘Moti choor Laddu’. The Moti choor of north India, is named due to its miniature pearls. The boondi, must have been named after the Hindi word- ‘Boond’ which means ‘droplet’.

One version of the South Indian Laddu, is the most popular Laddu of the Temple of Thiruppathi. The Thiruppathi laddu must be the most sort after, next to the presiding deity in the temple. The Boondi Laddu of the south, is made with slightly bigger pearls, than its northern counterpart. In colour too, the north prefers orange and the south prefers yellow. The Thiruppathi laddu though is brownish, as the pearls are deep fried and, taken out after they reach a darker colour. This might be for longer shelf life.

So, Laddu has been on my bucket list for many years. Before starting to make the Laddu, I wanted to do my homework well. I had my cousin in Chennai, who was and is still an expert in making Laddus. I approached her during one of my holidays, and that was my ‘Laddu Workshop’, in its best and simplified form. After that fruitful lesson, I thought Laddu was not as hard as I used to believe.

The hands that gave me a live demo and a true workshop on Laddu..

Thanks Sweety for that excellent demonstration!! These are the beautiful laddus we made.

So, inspired by the skillful workshop on Laddus by Sweety, I was confident, my laddus were going to be perfect.

Last Deepawali, I decided to make Boondi Laddu, along with Flax seed/black sesame Laddu – (https://dosaikal.com/2018/11/24/the-good-fat-black-ball/). But, I messed up with the Paagu or the sugar syrup. The sugar syrup got a bit thicker and couldn’t bind the laddus together. instead, we had them as dry sweet boondi. It was not a waste, that had to be thrown away, or altered to settle down in other variations, like the athirasam. But my mission remained unaccomplished.

I felt like the same maths student in my previous article (https://dosaikal.com/2019/11/07/deepawali-the-victory-story/), whose procedures were right, yet answer went wrong.

I researched into the shots, that I had taken at my cousin’s. Then I went through this youtube -demonstration- Laddoo by Revathy Shanmugam

After setting myself into a Yogic meditator’s mode, I went into the kitchen, at 9 in the night. I told the chatting and helping enthusiasts at home, husband and daughter, not to come near the kitchen, till further instructions.

Two alterations I did to the original recipe –

  1. No food colour or turmeric powder was used.
  2. Since I didn’t want to use white sugar, I used unrefined cane sugar.
  3. Also, Mrs. Revathy Shanmugam’s recipe suggested 1 1/2 cups sugar for 1 cup of bengal gram flour. I took equal quantity of both, as my family needs less sugar.

Even then, we found the Laddus to be too sweet for us.

Hence, with no food colour and brown sugar, the colour of Laddu was not as yellowish as it is available normally, still the taste was unaltered.

Ingredients (makes approximately 25 laddus)

  • Kadalai Maavu/bengal gram flour (store bought) – 1 1/2 cups
  • baking soda – a pinch
  • water – to make batter
  • unrefined cane sugar – 1 1/2 cups
  • cashew nuts – 10-15 halved
  • raisins – 10-15
  • cardamom powder – 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

Before we start making boondi for laddu, it is advicable to make the sugar syrup. As Mrs. Revathy Shanmugam mentions, mixing boondi in hot syrup doesn’t yield the best of laddus. Let the syrup cool a bit, then the boondi or bengalgram pearls can be mixed.

First – Soft Ball/Single String consistency – How to make the quintessential syrup?

the syrup – a bit brownish because of the cane sugar
  • In a wide pan, take 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup water
  • Bring it to boil and then keep the stove in sim position
  • Check for Soft ball consistency.When the sugar syrup is boiling well in the vessel – keep a bowl of water and add a few drops of the syrup. The drops should settle in water and one should be able to make a soft ball out of the droplets. 
  • Soft ball consistency is same as single string. Take very little syrup in between thumb and index finger (be cautious… the syrup is too hot), now, single string should be formed. This is the right consistency of syrup.

Now that the syrup is ready, leave it aside to cool.

Start making Boondi.

the first batch came out really perfect
  1. Sieve kadalai maavu; Add baking soda
  2. Add water little by little and mix into a batter, almost suitable for dosa or pancake
  3. Heat oil in a pan. The oil shouldn’t be too hot – then the boondi would turn brown immediately, without being properly cooked. The same way, oil shouldn’t be low in heat too. Boondi would turn out soggy.
  4. Like the porridge of the baby bear, in Goldilocks Story, the oil should be – ‘not too hot not too cold’- just right.
  5. Keep the boondi ladle over the oil and pour enough batter
  6. Tap the ladle so that beautiful pearls drop in harmony
  7. Do not make too many pearls in one ladle, as they would reduce the heat of oil, in turn, the boondis would become soggy
  8. When they are done, that is, when they reach a beautiful yellow colour, take them out on kitchen tissue
  9. Finish the whole batter
  10. When the batter is done, in the same oil, fry the cashewnuts and raisins and mix with the boondi.
  11. Add powdered cardamom powder too.

Making Laddu

  1. By now, the syrup must have cooled.
  2. Mix the boondi to the syrup and stir well. Leave it aside for at least a couple of hours or even overnight. This helps the boondis to soak in the sugar syrup well.
  3. I couldn’t wait beyond a couple of hours… so, I started making Laddus by middle of the night.
  4. The well soaked and cooled boondi in syrup, binded beautifully to make perfect Laddus.

Truly, a happy ending to a fruitful Saga!

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