Besan Laddu & Diwali
A delayed Diwali post! I know! I just couldn’t get this post ready soon enough!
Diwali/Deepawali is a festival that always brings back so many sweet memories from home. This festival of lights is the celebration of ‘Good over Evil’. The festival itself is spread over 5 days, but depending on different states/regions of India a couple of days hold prominence across different traditions. We specifically celebrate the 2nd day-’Naraka Chathurdasi‘ and 3rd day-’Lakshmi Puja‘ which was over the last weekend.
The preparation for the festival actually starts at-least a couple of days in advance. The homes are dusted and cleaned to perfection. The days of the festival begin with waking up early, washing our hair and taking a shower, putting on new traditional attire, adorning our front-yard with colorful rangoli, decorating our homes with flowers and preparing delicious food and sweets. Later, in the evening we would light clay diyas, arrange them in the front-yard and/or backyards and begin fireworks which would go on well into the night. Every year my brother and myself would have an allowance for crackers/fireworks and we would decide on what specific varieties of fireworks we would want that year. Everyone in the neighborhood would be outside on the street until late at night with their fireworks and having a darn good time. It is always such a pompous and joyous atmosphere all around. I really miss the wonderful ambiance of festivals from back home, but here too we try to celebrate every festival traditionally in whatever simple way possible.
Food is always a huge part of Hindu festivals and it is no different in case of Diwali. Delicious home made sweets are prepared and enjoyed throughout the festivities as well as distributed among relatives and friends as a greeting on the auspicious occassion. So, this year we made a simple Diwali feast for just the two of us. We made poori, sabudana keer (tapioca pudding), chana dal curry, onion pakora and besan/chickpea flour laddu. Today, I’d like to share a simple and easy recipe of besan laddu.
Laddu is basically a round shaped sweet treat made with a variety of ingredients. They have a special significance for festivals or special occassions at home. Besan/Chickpea flour laddu has just a few simple ingredients and in about 30 to 35 mins you have delicious laddus to relish on. The most important thing in this recipe is to dry roast the chickpea flour. Slowly and patiently while constantly stirring the flour let it change to a pale brown color. The quality of these laddus are totally based on how well the flour is roasted as it removes the rawness from the flour while enhancing it’s taste. Generally, ghee is used as a binding agent to make these laddus quite rich, but I substituted it with milk to make it kinda guilt-free. Saffron imparts a nice earthiness and color while cashews and raisins give a nice crunch to these delicious treat.
These are perfect for any occasion or for a simple weekend sweet treat!
Prep time + Cook time: 30 to 35 mins
Yields: 10 lime-sized laddus
- Besan/Chickpea Flour – 1 n1/2 cup
- Sugar (powdered) – 1 cup
- Milk – 1/2 cup
- Saffron – a pinch
- Ghee – 3 tsps
- Cashews – a fistful
- Raisins – a fistful
1. Heat a wide pan on low-medium heat. Add besan/chickpea flour, spread it out evenly and slowly dry roast the flour for around 12 to 15 mins. Keep an eye on it at all times and keep stirring it frequently to avoid burning the flour. The roasting enhances the earthiness of the flour. The better the flour is roasted, the better tasting laddus. So, patience is key here.
2. When the flour changes to pale brown turn off the stove and let it cool down a little for around 3 to 4 mins.
3. In the meanwhile heat 1/2 cup of milk with a pinch of saffron for just around 30 secs to 1 minute and grind sugar to fine powder (or simply use powdered sugar).
4. When the flour is still a little warm, add the powdered sugar and mix well into the flour using a spoon or your hand. The slight warmth of the flour helps in melting the sugar just enough to bring the flour together into pea size lumps.
5. In a small pan, heat 3 tsps of ghee. Add chopped cashews and golden raisins and fry them until they are just brown.
6. Now, slowly add saffron infused milk to the flour and bring the flour to a dough like consistency. Make round balls of the dough and arrange on a plate ready to serve or store them in airtight container to snack up on them later.
- Traditionally, ghee is used instead of milk for binding the flour together but I’ve used milk instead of ghee just to cut down on calories. But, ghee definitely makes these laddus even better.