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Diwali sweets: how to make "laddu"

Laddoos-finished.JPGHindus all over the world will light up their homes for Diwali or Deepawali on Tuesday. The festival of lights is the most important day of the year on the Hindu calendar.  Family and friends celebrate together with prayer and songs, and special celebrations in mandirs, or temples, take place in the five holy days leading up to it. The idea is to cast out the darkness and bring in the light. But of course, there is a not-so-light side to Diwali - sweets!

Sonali Karnick went to see a very good friend of the family, Rekha Kulkarni, for a lesson in making one of the most commonly consumed treats during this holiday. When Sonali first tried to make laddu, it was not a raging success. This time, with help, they were fudgy and delicious!

Here's the recipe for Besan Laddu:

4 cups besan (chick pea flour)
1 1/2 cups ghee, melted (clarified butter)
Seeds scraped from 7-8 cardamom pods, crushed finely with a mortar and pestle (a spice grinder or rolling pin also works to crush the seeds)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (more if you like it)
2 3/4- 3 cups icing sugar
40 toasted almonds
40 raisins

laddos-first step.JPG1) In a large pot over medium heat, mix together the chick pea flour and 1/2cup clarified butter (total stirring time will be about half an hour).

2) Stir together for about 5 minutes, until the butter is fully absorbed into chick pea flour.

3) Add another 1/2 cup of clarified butter and keep stirring. The colour of the flour will darken slightly.                                       

laddos-cooked.JPG4) When the additional butter is absorbed into the flour, add the rest of it.

5) Stir constantly until the mixture smells like cooked chick peas and the colour changes to orange. (Reduce the heat if you are seeing brown spots in the flour as it may be too hot and burn the mixture.)

6) Remove the pot from the heat and mix in the spices.

laddu sugar.JPG7) Bring the mixture to room temperature and incorporate the sugar, tasting for sweetness.

laddu forming.JPG8) Take about 2 tbsp of the mixture and press an almond in the centre. Form the dough around the almond to make a ball and press a raisin on top for decoration.

9) Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

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