I have been on a bit of an all-things-rice trip in my cooking beyond my regular everyday stuff. I have been inspired by a bunch of food loving friends, some old and some new. Rice is at the heart of the food that we eat and we decided to take a real good look at it. This has meant a new learning curve for me. It also led me to Gandhakashala Rice Laddoos.
Sometime last month, this group of rice lovers and I met at Pondicherry over 3 days. It was a wonderful experience spending time together on serious, not-so-serious and fun conversations. I came back with lovely memories and a suitcase full of food gifts, including a variety of heritage rices. I also came back with a few recipes including Vijhay’s Gandhakashala Rice Laddoos.
Vijhay, runs a lovely eco-friendly vegetarian restaurant called Maiyam Past Food at Auroville, in Pondicherry. He treated us to coffee (with coconut milk), some lovely rice based munchies, and also dinner that featured Gandhakashala rice. Dessert turned out to be the most delicious laddoos made from Gandhakashala rice. Vijhay then brought us all gifts of Gandakashala rice to take back home. He also generously shared the recipe for his laddoos.
You can gauge how good we thought those laddoos were from Instagram. Sheetal went back home and looks like the first thing she made were those rice laddoos! Deepa also made them but using a combination of Gandhakashal and Burma Black rices. There’s a saying that good things come in threes, and with my post that holds good for these Gandhakashala Rice Laddoos.
If you’re unfamiliar with Indian cuisine, laddoos are an Indian sweet shaped like little balls. The name laddoo is very generic and describes a sweet, dry ball shaped festive confection that usually is rich in ghee. Laddoos can be made of wheat, flour, rice flour, chickpea flour, semolina, etc. The sweetener is sugar or jaggery. They can be flavoured with cardamom, saffron, coconut, chopped nuts, etc.
Before I go on to the recipe, let me tell you something about Gandhakashala rice. This rice is a heritage variety of GI-tagged rice that is traditionally grown in Wayanad district of Kerala in southern India. Gandhakashala is a short grained scented/ aromatic rice that is easily cooked and digested. It is used to cook Payasam (a sort of milk and rice pudding) and Nei Choru or Ghee Rice because of its aroma.
I chose to use the rice Vijhay gifted us to make the recipe he shared. I also added toasted thin coconut slivers to the laddoo mix. If you live in Kerala you would know that coconut goes very well with rice and jaggery. You could use fresh grated coconut but the laddoos wouldn’t keep very long. Adding a little bit of dried ginger powder is optional but takes these laddoos to the next level.
If you cannot find Gandhakshal rice, use any other raw (not boiled, steamed or similarly processed) white aromatic rice. This is a simple enough recipe but has a couple of steps that need care. The rice has to be milled/ ground into fine flour. The rice is soaked for a couple of hours, then drained and dried at room temperature till just damp. This is then milled or ground into a reasonably fine rice flour.
Then it is mixed with powdered jaggery. Ghee is heated and mixed with small amounts of the rice flour-jaggery powder to make a slightly crumbly mixture which will hold shape when tightly held in a fist. The amount of ghee required for these laddoos is not very exact. It depends on how much is absorbed by the rice flour. It helps to be judicious when adding the ghee as too much ghee leads to a greasy unappetizing laddoo. Too little ghee makes shaping difficult.