Besan Ladoo

(jump to recipe)

Besan Ladoo (gram flour fudge) is the quintessential Indian sweet, and very popular in Maharashtra where I come from. While it is typically made all year round in India, it is one of the signature Diwali Faraal (feast) items (one of the others being the Pohyacha Chivda) that is practically mandatory in Marathi households. I attempted it a few times over the years but failed and ended up converting it to Besan Kheer (porridge) or Halva just to salvage it. This year though, I think I finally understood it.

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Ghee, Confectioners Sugar, Besan and Ground Cardamom

A very simple recipe which involves just 4 simple ingredients – 5 if you count time, the most critical ingredient of them all – requires patience and the ability to observe things closely. One of the great pleasures of leisurely holiday cooking is the opportunity to slow down and pay attention, things we should all be doing a lot more of in the kitchen. Once you understand the main milestones of the recipe, it is a breeze and the outcome is immensely rewarding – creamy, nutty, fragrant and bursting with nostalgia.

Besan is essentially Bengal Gram flour, also known as chickpea flour. It is high in protein and a versatile ingredient to have on hand to make sweet and savory crepes, pancakes, waffles, you name it! In this particular Indian confection, you roast it low and slow, then stream in melted ghee. Cook it a bit longer and finally mix in confectioners sugar and ground cardamom. That is pretty much it! Here are a few pictures for proof.

We start by roasting the Besan (gram flour) in a shallow, heavy-bottomed pan on very low heat until fragrant, about 15-20 minutes.

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Roasting the besan

Stir often to guarantee even coloring and cooking.

Then, on low heat, stream in the melted ghee and mix it in, cooking it low and slow.

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Adding melted Ghee aka liquid gold

The mixture will first look chalky, but then take on a deeper color.

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Ghee and besan thoroughly mixed and cooking

After 10-12 minutes, you should see ghee sweating its way out.

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See the patches of wetness – that’s the ghee being released from the mixture. Achieving this state is critical to this operation.

Until that happens, keep cooking, stirring often. You will also notice a distinct fragrance.

The mixture will come together and become really smooth after 15 minutes or so.

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After that, you should be able to spread it completely smooth, lump-free and smelling heavenly!

Then turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. Add the confectioner’s sugar and cardamom powder. Mix quickly and uniformly to avoid lumps.

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Adding confectioners sugar and ground cardamom. Sifting the sugar before hand helps reduce clumping.
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Sugar is completely mixed in, and we are ready to cool it and roll it!

Transfer the fudge mixture to a different container and let it cool. You could even refrigerate it for about 5 minutes, it makes it much easier to roll the ladoos. This is especially helpful if the fudge-y mixture seems a bit too soft and pliable, and the ladoos are not holding their shape as you would expect.

Using a cookie or ice-cream scoop, portion out about 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture at a time and form a ball in your hands by rolling it around between your palms. The heat from your hands will help shape the ladoo. While the ladoo is still soft and malleable, place a raisin or whole cashew on it and press it in.

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Feast on the Ladoos with other Diwali hits!

Ladoos will keep at room temperature in an air-tight container for 7-10 days. If storing for longer, refrigerate.

• Recipe •

Besan Ladoo
Adapted from various sources, including my mother

Makes 24 small- to medium- sized ladoos

3 cups Besan (bengal gram flour)
1 cup Ghee (clarified butter), melted
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (called pithi saakhar in Marathi), sifted
1 teaspoon ground cardamom powder

To garnish
Raisins or cashews

In a shallow, heavy-bottomed pan, toast the besan on a very low flame until fragrant, about 15-20 minutes. Stir often to guarantee even coloring and cooking.

Increase heat from very-low to low, and whisk in the ghee. Cook on low flame, stirring often, for another 15-20 minutes. The besan will first look chalky, but then take on a deeper color. After 10-12 minutes, you should see ghee sweating its way out. Until that happens, keep cooking, stirring often. You will also notice a distinct fragrance.

Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. Add the confectioner’s sugar and cardamom powder – mix quickly and uniformly to avoid lumps.

Transfer mixture to a different container and let it cool. You could even refrigerate it for about 5 minutes, it makes it much easier to roll the ladoos.

Using a cookie or ice-cream scoop, portion out about 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture at a time and form a ball in your hands by rolling it around. The heat from your hands will help shape the ladoo. While the ladoo is still soft and malleable, place a raisin or whole cashew on it and press it in.

Ladoos will keep at room temperature in an air-tight container for 7-10 days. If storing for longer, refrigerate.

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