A laddoo (or laddu as it sometimes spelt) is an Indian sweet which is almost always a part of festive or celebratory fare. Laddoos are made from one of a variety of ingredients including lentil flours, grain flours (such as rice or wheat), nuts, etc. All laddoos are usually made with sugar (or jaggery), ghee (how much or little would depend on the type of laddoo and the recipe used), cardamom, and perhaps cashewnuts and raisins. I make Rava Laddoos or Cardamom Flavoured Semolina Sweet Balls for the festive season of Diwali.
India is a country whose states are almost like countries themselves. Each state has its own language (or dialect and script), cuisine, customs and traditions. Yet the laddoo is one of those foods which are made in every state in some form or the other. These Rava Laddoos are made from rava or semolina. They are very much a Palakkad Iyer preparation too, but generally made without coconut.
This particular recipe happens to be “the introductory recipe” for the Indian Cooking Challenge. Srivalli came up with the idea of bloggers getting together every month to cook some Indian food following a single recipe. So, if you are interested in being a part of this, you should be writing to Srivalli. Her first recipe choice was the Rava Laddoo, and I just realized I hadn’t made them in a long time. I usually make them for Diwali. This year, we aren’t celebrating but my daughter loves them so I’m making some.
Ideally, one would use a very fine variety of rava/ semolina called “Chiroti rava”. This is used particularly for making these laddoos. If all you can find is the regular semolina that is coarser, you can run it in your mixer/ grinder for a minute to make it finer. The original recipe is on Srivalli’s blog and this is my version. I didn’t change much other than reducing the sugar to 3/4 cup. One cup sugar was much too sweet for us.
This method is slightly different from the way I usually make mine. I ususally use my mother’s recipe which calls for making a sugar syrup with milk and sugar, then adding the other ingredients to it. This recipe is easier as it doesn’t require gauging the sugar syrup consistency. This is the first time I’ve seen coconut in Rava Laddoo. I must say it does add an interesting flavour. This recipe also uses much less ghee. The milk in this recipe would mean the laddoos need to be eaten within 4 to 5 days. They will last a little longer if refrigerated.
Rava Laddoo - Cardamom Flavoured Semolina Sweet Balls
- 1 cup rava (semolina)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsps ghee (clarified unsalted butter)
- 2 tbsps milk (warm)
- 2 pods cardamom powdered
- 10 cashewnuts halved
- 10 raisins
- 2 tbsps coconut freshly grated
- Heat the ghee in a pan/ wok. Turn down the heat and fry the raisins, stirring constantly. Remove them from the ghee once they puff up. In the same ghee, fry the cashewnuts till they're golden brown. Similarly lightly toast the coconut and keep both aside.
- Add the rava (semolina) to the remaining ghee and roast the rava, stirring constantly, till it is pinkish in colour and gives off an aroma.
- In a bowl, put the rava, cashews, raisins, coconut and the cardamom powder. Add the sugar and mix well.
- Now add the milk (1 tbsp at a time) and mix. Add just enough milk so that if you hold the rava mixture in your palm and try to shape it, it should hold the shape.
- At this point, put this mixture back inot the pan/ wok (used for roasting the rava) and cook the mixture over low heat for 2 minutes. Stir well, then cover it and let it rest for another 2 minutes. By now the mixture would be cool enough to handle.
- Lightly grease your palms with ghee, if necessary, and work quickly to shape into balls the size of small lemons. If the laddoos seem a little soft, they will set once they're completely cool.