Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rava Laddu / Sooji Laddoo / Semolina Balls

If you are familiar with Indian desserts you know they are often as sweet and rich as the hot and fiery main courses. The processes to make these are often long and tedious but the outcome always delicious... milk solids that are curdled and separated from the whey to make chenna/paneer; butter that's heated to produce the long-lasting ghee/clarified butter; whole milk that is cooked until thickened to produce the finest khoya/mawa. No effort is spared in bringing out the richness and the best of flavours and aroma out of each ingredient that goes into making these indulgent sweets. Today however, I'm posting a recipe that is less time-consuming than most but nonetheless, one that doesn't compromise on taste. From the initial stage of sauteing the cashew nuts and raisins until golden and juicy till inhaling the pleasant aroma oozing from the roasted semolina and cardamom powder - the whole experience of preparing these laddus is as enjoyable as savouring them.    

Ravai laddu or sooji laddoo (ravai and sooji being different names for semolina) is one of the few fool-proof Indian sweets you will ever find. Growing up, this was the only type of laddu my mother used to make and as a result, not only do I have an affinity for it, I also learned how to make this on my own at a young age. I can't believe it has taken me so long to post it here. My mother always made these with sweetened condensed milk, not granulated sugar, and that's how I prefer my laddus too. I like the more creamy texture you get from the condensed milk versus the 'grainy' texture you get from granulated sugar. If you have all the ingredients to make these, it wont take you more than 15 minutes to make them and these laddus also have a relatively long shelf life.

Also, I want to apologize for the half written 'almond cookie' post that I posted sometime back. It was a future post that I was preparing and oopsie .. I pressed the publish button by mistake. I'm really sorry about that!

1 1/2 cup semolina
3 tbs unsalted butter/ghee/or coconut oil
3 tbs desiccated coconut
2/3 to 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tbs cashew nuts
2 tbs golden raisins
1 tsp cardamom powder
Wwater (or as required)

Heat the butter (ghee or coconut oil). Add the cashew nuts and saute until nice golden, then add the raisins and saute until the raisins start ballooning. Remove the cashew nuts and raisins from the pan and keep aside in a small bowl. Add the desiccated coconut in the same pan and roast until aromatic. Remove once done. Add the semolina in the same butter (ghee or coconut oil) you sauted the cashew nuts. Roast the semolina, on below medium heat, until light golden and aromatic. Keep stirring the semolina continously while roasting it because otherwise it will get burnt at the bottom.

Once the semolina is ready, switch off the flame. Add the sauted cashew nuts, coconut, raisins and the cardamom powder. Mix well. Spoon in the mixture into a bowl. Then add the sweetened condensed milk while stirring with a fork or a spoon, little by little, and mix until the milk is corporated into the mixture. Wait a couple of minutes if it is too sticky and then stir again (it's a difficult to say how much condensed milk you will need - you might need more or less depending on how warm your mixture is and how quickly it absorbs the moisture and what kind of semolina you use). Start gathering balls from the mixture. Semolina is very thirsty on water and is good at absorbing all the moisture. If the semolina absorbs all the water, to the point that it is difficult to gather balls, you could add a tad more water (as required) later. When gathering the balls, try to press the balls as tight as you can, so that they don't fall apart later. Let them cool down before serving. I prefer keeping mine at room temperature (but as I understand, they can be refrigerated as well) and can be stored for up to 2 weeks.