Today is Raksha Bandhan - a day that is set aside as per the Hindu calendar to honour & celebrate the timeless & beautiful bond between a brother and his sister. Tradition is followed and in a special ceremony the sister ties a 'rakhi' or a sacred thread around her brother's wrist symbolic of their eternal bond that binds him to protect her if any harm should befall her. As a sign of his love and respect and to seal the deal (of protecting his sister) the brother then hands over a gift to her in cash or kind, ranging from simple to extravagant. This is my opinion is one of the most beautiful customs celebrated all over India.
Weeks before this special day one can see a whole variety of rakhis on display in shops that sell them. Sometimes there are special stalls/shops that crop up just for the occasion. If you visit a well stocked shop you will find pretty much what you desire - every conceivable rakhi in every shape and size and colour. Creative, traditional, contemporary, simple -take your pick. While the most traditional ones come in bright orange or reddish orange threads, you have the funky and trendy ones too that will just make you go 'wow'!
This special 'rakhi' is accompanied by several types of sweetmeats to sweeten the occasion and the mood is celebratory. There are no dearth of sweets in India - every region, state and cuisine has a dozen different sweets that range in texture, colour, aroma and taste. Ladoos, pedas, halwas & kheers are just large umbrellas under which a thousand varieties take shelter. Then throw in another few hundred regional varieties and what you have is a mind boggling platter of sweets.
Speaking of laddoos - these are my favourite type of Indian sweets. I simply love laddoos and while in Mangalore I never fail to buy my favourite mithai ladoos or boondi laddoos (made of deep fried chick pea batter). When I was little my Konkani (GSB) neighbours used to prepare the 'Churmundo' very often and I remember eating them whenever I used to visit their place. I was one of the youngest and most loved among all the neighbourhood kids, so I always used to get some extra TLC (tender, love & care) at their place. Today, when one of my new friends on Facebook - Mrs. Vidya Nayak Shenoy posted a picture of these laddoos, my mouth watered and I had a rush of old memories. Vidyakka
as I fondly call her has been so kind as to share many of her priceless recipes with me in the past. Dalitoy
, Chane Ghashi
and Coconut Burfi
are a few that have been tried & tested in my kitchen so far. I have another couple to try and post, but the Churmundo beat all of them to the blog. Her recipes have never failed me and she is more than happy to give me accurate measurements and patiently answers all my queries no matter how many times I bug her. So this post is dedicated to you dear Vidyakka. Thank You!!
We may have never met, but I am glad I found a sister in you. Happy Rakshabandhan!
Prep time: nil | Cook time: 20mins + 15mins | Yield: 17-18 lime sized laddoos
- 1/2 cup ghee
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan/kadlehittu)
- 1/4 cup semolina (fine rava/bombay sooji)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- a few raisins (approx 1/8th cup) optional
- 1 few broken cashewnuts (approx 1/8th cup) optional
- 2-3 powdered cardamoms
1. Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed kadhai/wok and add the chick pea flour, stir to avoid lumps and fry for half a minute on a slow flame. Add in the whole wheat flour and semolina and fry for 15-20minutes. Take care to ensure that the mixture does not burn.
2. Remove the mixture from heat and allow to cool completely. Add the powdered sugar, cardamom powder and the optional items - raisins & cashewnuts and mix thoroughly to ensure that there are no lumps. The mixture will resemble fine bread crumbs/rawa after a point.
3. Lightly grease your palm if required and take a fistful of the mixture and compress well, release excess mixture and proceed to shape the mixture into lime sized balls. Roll between palms if necessary for a smooth round finish.
4. Store in an airtight container for upto 2 weeks (if they last that long!)
If you wish to store the ladoos for longer, you will need to fry the raisins and cashewnuts as well. Do this right after the ghee is heated. Remove and keep aside until you require to shape the laddoos.
Don't be tempted to add the sugar before the flour mixture has cooled completely. You don't want the heat to melt the sugar and make a mess of the situation, do you?
Don't be alarmed at the quantity of ghee used here - don't skimp, don't use oil - ghee is necessary to form perfectly shaped laddoos that are moist too. If you reduce the ghee, the laddoos will crumble or taste very dry