Saturday 31 October 2015

Maa Laadu (மாலாடு)

Diwali is just around the corner, and traditionally during this time womenfolk get busy making sweets and savouries. However, life has become fast-paced with more and more households opting to buy sweet hampers for the festival. Nonetheless, it is always a pleasure preparing a sweet or two at home as it lends a personal touch to the festivities. Making gulab jamun using a ready-made mix is a tempting option, especially while almost all the brands are advertising ‘Buy one - Get one’ offer! 

Well, if you are hard pressed for time, but still want to make a sweet all by yourself, here is a traditional sweet that you can make in just 20-30 minutes! Hardly any cooking is required!! What’s more, it is tasty and healthy. ‘Maa laadu’ (மாலாடு) is a popular Tamilian sweet that is often included in the wedding sweet spread (கல்யாண சீர் வரிசை). My grandmother used to make this sweet effortlessly. Let’s see how to make ‘maa laadu’ for this Diwali.

Fig.1: Roasted Bengal Gram
Ingredients: (Makes 25-30 laadus depending on the size)

Roasted gram or fried gram (Fig.1) – 2 teacups or 400ml measure*
Sugar – 1½ -2 teacups or 400ml measure (adjust to taste)*
Cardamom – 6-8 no
Ghee – ½ teacups or 100ml measure
Cashew nuts – broken, 4 tablespoons

*Fried gram is roasted Bengal gram (உடைச்ச கடலை () பொட்டுக் கடலை) that is readily available in grocery shops. It is used for making coconut chutney.

*I prefer adding equal quantities of roasted gram and sugar, as per the traditional method. However, if you prefer the laadus to have medium sweetness then you may slightly reduce the quantity of sugar used. 

Method: Fry roasted gram lightly in a kadai on medium flame for 1-2 minutes, just to make sure that no moisture is left in the gram. Switch off the stove and allow it to cool. Remove the cardamom seeds and keep aside.

Powder sugar using the mixture-grinder and transfer the finely powdered sugar into a dry wide-mouthed bowl. In the same mixer container, grind roasted gram and cardamom seeds into a fine powder. Transfer the gram powder to the bowl. Mix powdered sugar and roasted gram flour very well using a dry spoon. Keep aside.

Fig.2: Ghee poured on top of gram flour-sugar mixture 
Heat ghee in a tadka pan or spice pan, add cashew nuts and fry till they turn light brown in color. Switch off the stove. Pour the ghee containing fried cashew nuts on top of the flour-sugar mixture (Fig.2). Mix well with the spoon. Take a handful of the mixture and shape into a ball by pressing it with your fingers. If the mixture does not stick together, add in 2 tablespoons of melted ghee and start shaping the mixture into lemon sized balls. Use up the mixture fully, and you would have made 25-30 balls or ‘laadus’ (லாடு). Please note that it is easier to make the laadus when the flour-sugar mixture is still warm.

How to store the laadus: Store the laadus in a dry air-tight container. If stored properly, maa laadu stays fresh for 7-10 days easily.

Maa Laadu (மாலாடு)
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