Festive Recipe – Traditional Besan Laddu


 

There is no mithai more soul satisfying than perfectly made besan laddoos. I make the rawa – besan laddoos and besan barfi too but these remain my first choice. Over the years I have perfected the texture and taste of these laddoos so sharing my recipe.

Use of home made tagar or boora is the secret to the goodness of these laddoos. If I am unable to make tagar at home I go for organic, chemical free pure bura/boora. Powdered granular sugar is no match to this and isn’t used in the original prasad laddoos.

My mother is from Banaras and she fondly remembers the Sankatmochan laddoos. The subtle flavor of those besan laddoos have a mild fragrance of  tulsi ( Holy Basil) leaves which are kept along with the prasad in a palm leaf box. Usually when I make them I keep a few tulsi leaves in the box in which I store the laddoos. Just for sentimental reasons.

If you have been to Sankatmochan Mandir then these will bring back the memories for sure. Though every place has its unique experience and no laddoos can taste like the ones you get there, these come close to having the real ones. Maybe it the essence of the place that makes them very special. Do visit the mandir once at least. Everyone should experience Banaras at least once in a lifetime.

The last time I tasted Sankatmochan laddu was in March 2016, at the Banaras ka khana – showcase, a food festival at the Oberoi Hotel, Gurgaon, curated by Sangeeta khanna along with Chef Manish Sharma, Chef Ravitej Nath and team. An unforgettable experience.

I also prefer the laddoos to be mildly sweet. Too much sugar, in my opinion, masks the flavor of roasted besan. It is a personal choice. I used organic, desi, chemical free Bura in this recipe.

Ingredients : 

Chickpea flour / besan ( the coarse variety) – 300 gm

Bura Cheeni / Crystalline sugar / tagar – 150 – 200 gm

Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp

Ghee / Clarified butter –  150 gm ( just enough for binding)

A few Holy basil / Tulsi leaves

Steps : 

Choose a coarse variety of besan ( mota besan) to make laddoos. It gives them a good grainy texture.

Heat a thick base kadhai and lower the flame. Add besan and dry roast it till it changes color slightly. Keep stirring to avoid burning.

Add the ghee and mix it properly. Roast on low- medium flame. As you keep stirring you will notice the changes in the mixture. It will be crumbly at first then loosen up a bit as it gets roasted. The color will change to different shades of brown from the golden yellow it was. I prefer slightly more roasted laddoos. The ones  we get in the market are lighter in color. The aroma is an indicator of a well roasted besan ghee mixture. There is no word to explain it other than khamang or sondha. I hope you know what I mean.

Make sure the flame is low or the besan will either burn or get extra roasted which we do not want at any coast. Once you get the desired color, add the boora cheeni and the green cardamom powder.

Gently mix everything and roast for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off the gas and take out the mixture in a broad thali or parat or plate. You can add the tulsi leaves at this point like I did but it is not essential. I just experimented due to sheer nostalgia. Don’t bind them in laddoos.

Let the mixture become cool enough to handle and quickly make the laddoos of desired size. I make them walnut size or bite size as I call them.

If the mixture begins to solidify you can heat it again to allow ghee to melt for binding. Warm mixture binds well.

Make all the laddoos and store in an airtight container along with some tulsi leaves.

I forgot to click the step by step pictures but will add soon when the next batch is made. Will try and make tagar / boora at home and will post the recipe. 

You can add dry fruits like finely chopped almonds, raisins etc. I prefer them without any added stuff but do make some for those who prefer that.  These were made a few months back with raisins. Smaller than the walnut size I make as i noticed the familia breaking the bigger ones into half and eating. So, for small hungers. 🙂

 

On that note, Happy festivities to all my readers. Stay blessed and loved. Ignore the bad photography skills. Make these and trust me all you will ever remember is the taste.

 

 

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Mango Phirni With Mango Roses | Indian Mango Rice Pudding With Mango Roses


Mangoes are in season and there is nothing more satiating than this dessert. Fragrant rice in full cream milk with flavor of ripe mangoes is delicately delicious and looks fantastic with the mango roses. This was my first attempt in making the roses and the mangoes were so juicy and ripe that it didn’t work the way I wanted but then it was fun and lip smacking.  I also discovered an easier way of getting those roses right which I will share later along with some other fruit and vegetable flowers.

The secret to a good phirni is the coarsely ground rise that has a semolina like texture. Traditionally it is served in mitti ka kasora or a small earthenware bowl. I didn’t have those so used a clay pot to chill the phirni then served in glass bowls. Nuts, saffron, silver leaf are used traditionally as a garnish but with the gorgeous mango flavour and roses on top I did not use anything extra. Creamy and grainy, this is a perfect dessert after a lavish meal.

Ingredients : 

  • Mango puree – 1 cup
  • Raw Basmati Rice – 31/2 tbs ( Soaked)
  • Mangoes – 1-2 ( For the roses)
  • Condensed Milk ( Milkmaid ) – 3/4 Cup ( adjust according to the sweetness of mangoes)
  • Full Fat Milk – 4 Cups
  • Saffron Threads – 5-6 ( Soaked in warm milk)
  • Almonds – 6-7 soaked / skinned / ground to a paste
  • Nuts / Raisins – for garnish ( as desired)
  • Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp

 

Steps : 

  1. Soak rice in water for 30 minutes at least.
  2. Rinse and blend in the food processor with a little milk or water to make a smooth yet coarse paste. The rice should not become powdery.
  3. Heat the milk in heavy bottom pan and bring in to boil. Keep stirring and reduce it for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and almond pastes, stirring continuously on low heat. Make sure no lumps are formed.
  5. Add saffron and keep simmering on low heat till the rawness of ricer goes away.
  6. Add condensed milk and stir till it thickens to pudding like consistency. Turn off the gas. Add cardamom powder.
  7. Let the mixture cool on the counter and then st
  8. ir in the fresh mango puree. Mix it to get a smooth texture.
  9. Add the desired nuts and pour into the earthen pot or any serving pot you are using. Let it chill in the fridge so it sets properly.
  10. Meanwhile make mango roses and cool them. Before serving arrange the roses as desired and serve chilled.

  1. To make mango roses : Peel a hard yet ripe mango and cut the two side slices. Remove an inch from the sides and slice thinly. Arrange it the thin slices to form the petals and place it on the chilled phirni.

 

My Tip:
Keep the sugar level mild in phirni for excellent taste. You can layer white phirni and mango phirni alternately in individual glasses or serve in individual earthen bowls too. If serving individually you can add chopped mango pieces or simply drizzle finely chopped pistachios and almond shavings.
You can layer the phirni in individual glasses. For that take out a portion of phirni before adding the mango pulp and chill. Once the mango phirni is ready, spoon some mango puree in chilled glasses and layer the two phirni alternately. Garnish with chopped mango pieces or nuts.

 

 

 

Chana Sattu Or Roasted Gram Flour Laddoos


 

India has such wonderful variety of indigenous food for every season. When the hot summer sun unleashes its fury  one wants to turn to simple nutritious meals. Sattu is a wonder flour that can be consumed uncooked. Now, is’t it a wonderful thought? The cooling properties of sattu  make it a perfect summer choice. It has low glycemic index and high fiber content. It is one of the highest sources of vegetarian proteins that is easily digestible and also of calcium and magnesium. As it provides iron too, I find it very healthy  option for my anemia.

Most popular in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Eastern Uttar Pradesh this humble flour, often called “Poor man’s food”, is loaded with nutrition and has lots of health benefits.

One can make so many dishes from this roasted flour from litti, sattu paratha, sattu puri, sattu laddoo to sharbat and baby gruel, you can make anything with this easily digestible flour.  .

Sattu can be made with roasted  Jau (Barley), chana (Bengal Gram)  or even wheat.

Here is a simple way to make your fresh Sattu at home. I used to make do all this some years back but then slowly resorted to organic sattu from stores. Sometimes our domestic help would get it from her village and I would again postpone making my own. Food blogger and nutrition consultant Sangeeta Khanna wrote about the benefits of Sattu and posted some gorgeous recipes on her blog. I was inspired and thought of reviving my healthy eating regime.

All of us have grown up munching bhuna chana or roasted chana with skin, sometimes with jaggery. The skinned version is mostly used for chutneys or salads. The masala coated ones are best snacks to munch on. The plain ones best to make sattu.

Chana sattu or roasted Bengal gram flour:

Take roasted skinned Bengal gram and if you don’t mind a little extra fiber then add a handful of those with skin too. Now, grind them till they  turn into a fine flour. If I mix the two I keep the proportion of 2-1 ( two parts skinned+ one part with skin)

That’s it. See, how simple it is. You can omit the ones with skin if you like. It is a personal choice.

I have a recipe for Sweet Sattu drink Sweet Sattu drink Here and will post the other version and some other recipes soon but for now here is the recipe for laddoos that will make you drool. They are quick. They are healthy and require no cooking. In flat 15 minutes you are ready for a nutritious sweet. Even kids can make it, it is so simple.

I used organic honey in one recipe which I learned from Sangeeta’s blogpost  and another with very fine jaggery powder.

Two Versions of Chana Sattu Laddoos 

With Honey on the left and with Fine powdered jaggery on the right

For Laddoos with Honey 

Take I cup chana sattu  in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter) and two tablespoons of organic honey. Rub all the the ingredients together and bind the mixture to form small lemon size balls.

Your laddoos are ready to eat. 😀 

For Laddoos With Fine Shakkar or Powdered Jaggery 

Take 1 cup of chana Sattu and add 1 tablespoon of warm ghee (clarified butter) and two tablespoons of finely powdered gur or jaggery. (I had granuels so I churned them in the grinder till the powder became very fine) . Rub the ingredients together and bind it  to make  small lemon size balls.

I make the laddoos bite size so it doesn’t get wasted. One can have two if needed. A large laddoo often makes people hesitant. So make them small in size.

Tip- You can add powdered green cardamom seeds, raisins etc too. I love the simple roasted flavour of chana so rarely add anything else.

I made the ones with honey for the first time. The taste was unique and nice but I prefer the ones with shakkar or sometimes boora cheeni.

I hope some of you will make these and get back with feedback. I am sure kids would love them too.

Eat healthy and try to incorporate local, indigenous food on daily basis.  It is healthy and cheap.

 

Spring Festival With Colors, Sweets, Bhang And Flowers


The spring is here and Delhi Trees have shed their leaves in anticipation of long summer and water scarcity. The roundabouts , the rose garden , the trees which line the  long sizzling roads are exploding with colors of spring flowers. The sight is intoxicating. Amidst all the traffic, heat, dust and stress of city life  the flowers dance with the slightest breeze.

The golden shower from the Neem trees is a such a refreshing sight . It is amazing how the yellow leaves rain on the earth below creating magic in the air.

The Silk cotton and the Coral Trees are on fire  and the Gulmohars and Laburnum are getting ready to bloom. Birds like koel,crows, pigeons,  parakeets, It is a delight to watch these dazzling flamboyant red flowers blazing amongst the soothing greens of other evergreens like Banyan, Jamun, Ashokas and many more.

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Spring flowers like roses, jasmine, Dalia, marigold, Poppies,  bottle brush, Moulsari, calendula,

Along with the riot of colors that spring brings comes the festival of Holi .

Now a days Holi is not what it sued to be in my childhood. I remember the aromas that drifted from the kitchen with the breeze . The excitement of all the goodies like Gujiya, Dahi bade , poran poli, dal moth and more.

It was a family bonding session to prepare all the delicacies and savor them along with thandai and other coolants. Holi was never a vulgar, obnoxious display . We would keep plates of abir and gulal ready for the people visiting home along with the sweets. Water guns were in but no color filled baloons . Colors were mostly natural made with sandlewood, beetroot, black grapes, henna, bolied silk cotton (Semul) flowers or Tesu flowers.

Music was very much a part of Holi always. The special holi songs , tappas, the kumayuni Pahadi holi dance and song groups mixed with Bhang was a heady combination.

Bhang was used in pakodas, thandai etc.

I remember the JNU holi at a friend’s home and the Chat sammelan which was so much fun though I went there as a guest I really freaked out . It sure was spring madness come alive.

Gone are the days of  Gulabi Holi( pink holi) and Aab-e-Pashi (shower of colourful flowers) when the holi Phags were sung. Songs like

Kyon mo pe mari rang ki pichkari, Dekho kunwarji doon gi gari! (Why am I with colour sprinkled/ By me now you will be abused!”)

Now all we hear are bollywood numbers , the local flavor is lost forever at least in big cities like Delhi. In the Mugal times also Holi was played with fervor and gaiety. India’s cultural heritage has been enriched by the harmonious amalgamation and assimilation of various faiths and ethnicities.

It was a frenzied carnival where  people, irrespective of their caste, creed or any other religious or social distinction, forgot their restraints and joined in the festivity of the celebration.

I don’t much see that spirit of brotherhood and love anymore. The traditional Holi is restricted to some areas only like the famous Bruj ki holi, kumaun ki holi and Benaras ki holi.

 

The tradition of Thandai a cold drink made with a mixture of almonds, spices, milk and sugar and Bhang ( female cannabis sativa buds and leaves) is specialty of Northern India though now a days its used almost everywhere. Associated with Lord Shiva and in the city of Banaras one can find people preparing Thandai with mortar and pestle , singing holi songs. The festive spirit is enhanced by the bond of togetherness it creates. . Bhang is also mixed with ghee and sugar to make a tasty green halva, and into peppery, chewy little balls called ‘golees’. Bhang has medicinal properties also and much safer than drinking alcohol.

It is considered good omen and auspicious  to drink a little bhang on Holi.

Its been a while since I played holi. I lost interest in it after someone poured a can of emulsion paint on my head and I had to wash it with kerosene. It was pathetic and burned my skin for days but the memory of the lovely times celebrated together still fill me with nostalgia .

Here is my Recipe  for baked gujiya

Baked Gujiya


Ingredients :

For Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

6 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)

1/2 tsp baking soda

Water

For Filling

1 kg Khoya ( thickened milk) ( I do not use khoya)

1 cup Sugar,  according to  taste

1 cup dry grated coconut

1 cup dry fruits ( cashewnut, almond, raisins), finely chopped

1/4 tsp cardamom powder

1 tbsp clarified butter

Method:

For making dough

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda and clarified butter. Start kneading until smooth and stiff textured dough. To test press your palm on the dough and remove immediately. The dough should bounce back. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let it sit for sometime.

For filling

In a deep heavy bottom pan, fry khoya with 1tsp ghee until golden in color. Add shredded coconut to it. Fry for sometime. Add the dry fruits and fry again, until  you start getting nice aroma.  Add sugar and cardomom powder to it. Mix well. Fry for few mins. Allow the mixture to cool.


Assembling and Baking

Divide the dough in small balls. Roll these balls into small, thick 6″ diameter circles. I use small  bowl to cut into perfect shape or use  gujia molds available in market.

Put a tbsp of filling in the one half of the circle and brush milk all over the along the side. Fold one side of the round over the other. Pinch the edges to seal it.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree Celsius arrange the gujiyas in a oven safe greased dish and bake till golden brown from both sides.

Enjoy !!!!


I know Holi festivities are over but still wanted to share this with friends. I miss the fun, the aromas and bonds of love and warmth , the eager anticipation of new clothes , music and dance. The laughter  and carefree longings and to some extent the teasing ( nok jhok) . I miss mom’s home.