Every year we loved and enjoyed Vinayaka Chathurthi as it was always the first of the many hindu festivals. It heralded the onset of the other religious festivals like Sri Krishna Jayanthi, Navarathri, Saraswathi Pooja, Vijayadasami, Deepavali, Karthikkai Deepam, Thiruvadharai etc. Every festival was important in it`s own right and had its own religious significance. When we were little kids, collectively the festival season excited us for many small reasons – the family gets together and everyone celebrates, new clothes are bought for one and all and of course the great eats….the “Bhakshanams”, the multitude of sweets and savories that the women of the family get together and plan to make for the festivals. Sometimes, friends would also join in and synergise efforts and share the results.
Some of the more important festivals are Navarathri and Deepavali. These two festivals are both joyous in their celebration of good over evil and in its bringing together people to unify as one, in front of the Lord. Boondhi Ladoo has always been a favourite of mine as I used to watch Madurai amma make it every Deepavali. The most important utensil required for this is the Boondhi Making Ladle- or Boondhi Jarani or Boondhi Karandi , and madurai amma had hers made in heavy iron. I love all her utensils – boondhi karandi, appa kaaral, kadai , all of them heavy and solid and gleaming from the loving washes over the years with soaked tamarind and lemon.
I saw my Boondhi Karandi at Patel`s on Devon Avenue in Chicago, and I had to make it mine. I was waiting to try it out and see if the Boondhis were coming out ok and it was pretty good. A great buy for $7.99 I would say!!!
1 cup Besan.
1/2 cup water for the Besan.
1 1/2 cup Sugar.
1 cup water for the syrup.
Pinch of Edible Camphor (Pacha Kalpooram)
A little bit of milk for making Ladoo Balls.
A pinch of saffron soaked in warm milk.
4 or 5 Cloves.
For the first time ladoo makers I have tried to provide a lot of little tips, where I found I used to make mistakes.
- The first step in the preparation of Boondhi for the ladoos is making the besan batter. It`s important to “try” to make boondhis or drops which are spherical without a “tail”. The tail would come if the water content in the besan is a little more then necessary.
- The second point to be noted is that the boondhis should not be fried to a point where they are too crisp. This would also not render the easy making of ladoo balls.
- Take a bowl and add the besan making sure that there are no clots. Sieve if necessary. I used SWAD Super Fine Gram Flour which does not need any sieving.
- Add the 1/2 cup water and using a whisk, stir it all in briskly. The whisk also helps in the uniform mixing without clots. If needed you might have to add 1-2 tbsp of water more. This is how it should look like.
- At the same time keep a heavy bottomed vessel on the stove. Add sugar 1 and 1/2 cup and the 1 cup water. Give it a quick stir and keep it on medium high on the stove.
- Use a spatula and keep stirring. Also take a kadai with oil and put on medium flame on the stove. This is for frying the boondhi.
- Stir the sugar syrup now and then until it reaches “One Stick” consistency. This means when you take a little of the syrup in your index finger and lightly tap it on the thumb, it should pull to a single string.
- On my electric stove this took about 11-12 minutes. This would vary depending on the size and thickness of the vessel you use for the syrup, LPG/Electric stove, and the kind of appliance, different kinds of sugar etc. I used C&H White Sugar from the store.
- Remove from the heat and set aside. Add 1 tbsp of milk in which the saffron is added.
- Gently take a spoon of the besan batter and pour on to the perforated Boondhi Ladle, holding it over the hot oil. The little drops of boondhi fall on to the oil.
- If it falls too fast, with tails, this means the water content is a little more, so add a spoon of besan and mix it in again.
- When the boondhi hits the oil, it will immediately hiss and get fried. As soon as this sound stops, gently ease out all the boondhis from the oil and add it to the sugar syrup vessel.
- Repeat and complete until all the besan batter is used up. Add all the boondhis to the sugar syrup.
- Now add crushed cardamom powder, cloves, a pinch of the “pacha karpooram” (Edible Camphor) and cashews and raisins fried in ghee.
- Mix all these well in to the boondhi mixture.
- Allow a few minutes so you can handle the boondhi in the sugar syrup with your bare hands. it should be more warm. Not too luke warm as this would not render it to mould in to a ball, as the sugar would crystallise.
- Now spoon a ladle on to your hands and gently shape in to a ball. I use a little milk to wet my hands before I mould them in to firm ladoos.
- In the process, If you feel that the boondhis are not at all sticky and have no moisture, place the vessel in the stove, for a minute. This would melt the sugar around the boondhis a little but still be warm enough to shape in to balls.
- This quantity of besan yielded around 20 medium sized ladoos.
- Try out the boondhi ladle with the batter to see how the batter falls. You can keep the boondhi ladle on the mixed besan batter itself to see results. Then adjust the consistency of the batter.
- Do not allow the boondhis to fry for too long as this would make them too crisp. I did this once and I had to be satisfied to eat plain sugared boondhis as I could not bring them to have any cohesiveness to make balls!!
- The sugar syrup has to be a syrup consistency, which is slightly thicker than water. Making it too thick would mean , difficult times ahead. Simply add a little more warm water and thin out the consistency as required.
- Do not add too much of cloves or edible camphor as this would spoil the taste and aroma of the ladoos.
- Ladoo is not a difficult sweet to make, if you follow these simple hints. Try them out at least once before the festival, to note down the timings and results in your kitchens.
Sending these soft and sweet ladoos to WYF – Festive Treats Event happening at SimpleIndianFood.