Cookie month #11: Besan Ladoo (Indian chickpea cookie balls)

Besan ladoo is a lovely treat prepared in many Indian households for Diwali, the festival of lights. The festival is famously celebrated by Hindus and commemorates the return of Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, from his 14-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana.

When I was growing up, one of our neighbours was a Sikh family. They celebrated Diwali as it marks the prison release of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, and 52 other princes from the Gwalior Fort in 1619. I remember the sweet delicious aromas whiffing from their kitchen and would watch their grandmother slaving over the stove to create some tasty treats for the family evening celebrations. If I was lucky, she would generously hand me one of these besan ladoos through the fence we shared.

Diwali is celebrated on 26 October this year, so make these a day before and celebrate with some lit oil lamps.

Makes 20 ladoos

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups chickpea flour (also known as ‘besan’ in Indian stores)
  • 4 tbsp semolina (also known as ‘sooji’)
  • ½ cup ghee (clarified butter)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 4-5 tbsp almonds, chopped (or pistachios, cashew nuts)
  • 1 tbsp raisins

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt the ghee in a pot over medium low heat. Do not let it overheat – you only need it to be warm.
  2.  

  3. Sift the chickpea flour before adding the warmed ghee. Mix well with the semolina to remove any lumps.
  4.  

  5. Put the mixture back into the pot and roast over a low-medium heat till you get the nutty aroma and the flour darkens to a golden color. This can take up to 20-30 minutes.
  6.  

  7. Turn off the heat and add the cardamom, sugar and nuts. Mix well.
  8.  

  9. When cool, use your hands to roll the mixture into golf ball-sized balls. Place on a lightly greased, flat tray to completely cool. Store in an air-tight container in a cool place.
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