The holiday sweet-making season has been officially kicked off around our house with the Indian celebration of Diwali. Diwali, the Festival of Light, the celebration of the triumph of goodness over evil, is not something that I grew up celebrating in my Italian American household. No, we had stuff like Little Christmas which brought out some very "interesting" cheeses to say the least, and cakes with tiny, hard metal fortune telling treats baked into them. Bite in. Hit a Coin?! You'll have riches... so will your dentist.
Despite this I have never met a holiday I didn't like. Celebrating something? Really? I'm down for it! Does this holiday feature some delicious tasty sweet treats? I'm double down. Are these treats easy to make with ingredients I don't have to drive 25 miles each way to whip up? Even better. I am so there. So here I am, smack in the middle of Diwali with some great easy and fast recipes. One of my favorites is Laddu.
Laddu are some of the most popular treats served at Diwali. These round, sweet balls of deliciousness are made of some sort of grain (yes, some are gluten free) mixed with melted butter or ghee and sugar, and finally stuffed with spices, nuts and raisins. Laddu can be made ahead and ready for party action within a couple of hours. And after all, when there's sweet stuff involved, who doesn't want the trip from pan to mouth to be quick, quick, quick? So, wasting no time..
Here's what to do:
In a large bowl mix together:
2 cups of fine semolina flour (found at any grocery store)
1 cup of fresh grated coconut (you can always use frozen as I did, which can be gotten at most Hispanic or Asian markets.)
Mix it all together well, then cover the bowl and set it aside for at least a 1/2 hour or so.
In a large skillet or kadhai, melt 1/2 cup of ghee or 1/2 cup which is the same as 1 stick of unsalted butter. Melt it on medium heat.
When the butter is melting and foamy, add in the semolina and coconut mixture. Turn the heat down and saute the semolina and coconut.
Don't let the mixture brown, (keep stirring.) You want it nice and plump and golden, like this. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.
Put the mixture onto a plate and let it cool.
Meanwhile, here's the only scary part (for me) about making this dessert, and that is...
The Sugar Syrup.
1 and 1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
in the skillet or kadhai.
Stir it around until the sugar melts at a medium heat.
Then cook it down on a lower heat until the sugar water mixture gets to what is called single thread consistency. This is usually the part I hate as I get very nervous around melting sugar.
Here's a little explanation of Single Thread Consistency. What I did was watch the sugar syrup like a hawk until my candy thermometer came to about 222 degrees.
When the sugar syrup reaches that perfect temperature, take the pan off the flame.
20 golden raisins
The ground up seeds from 8 cardamom pods
Mix everything together well.
Put a lid on things and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Now for the fun.
Making The Laddus
Take the mixture and shape it into small balls by rolling it in the palms of your hands.
Little tip: One thing that helps in doing this is moistening your hands.
Serve them up with a cup of chai, or whatever makes your parties perfect! These were amazingly delicious and popular with everyone and will be making a repeat appearance on my table throughout the holiday season.
Coming up next, these laddu are not the only sort out there. Another laddu is coming up that's completely gluten free! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori