Laayi Pitte Undo / Laayanso Laadu (Broken Puffed Paddy & Jaggery Balls) ~ Mangalorean Konkani Style

School has finally started! Yayy!! Last Wednesday was the first day of school for my son. First day of school in Dubai. I did not anticipate any tantrums and thankfully there were none. He is already accustomed to the hustle & bustle that comes with waking up early and getting packed off to school as he had started playschool in Mumbai at the age of 1 year and 9 months. However, he had to jump right into the daily rigmarole of school life in the gulf. The first day he woke up he said
"Wow Mamma, so this is what 6 am looks like?" The last time he woke up in the middle of the night was a few days earlier, clutching his stomach in pain. My poor baby was down with a viral fever, stomach upset & the works. That explains my absence from the blog. Now that he's up and about, I am back to cooking what I love to eat and hopefully my little ones will eat.

Since the festive season has already started in India everyday I get tortured with visuals of mouth watering preparations that are posted on every possible food site and especially Facebook where I spend a considerable amount of my daily browsing time. This particular recipe is credited to two people. Mrs. Vidya Nayak Shenoy (my FB friend & GSB cuisine mentor) & Veda Pai (my school friend & GSB cuisine mentor :D) from whose Facebook posts I realised that I had once eaten & enjoyed these laddoos but forgotten about as the years passed by. Over a span of one year I bugged each one successfully - they were kind enough to spare the utmost details and thanks to Whatsapp, the mobile to mobile chat messenger my dear friend Veda gave me the accurate method of preparing the jaggery syrup. So thank you honey for all those tips & suggestions.

The taste of home made laddus/laddoos is unbeatable - they are fresh, aromatic & so delicious! Just one note of caution, don't start making this if you anticipate disturbances or breaks during the process. You need to give it your undivided attention from start to finish. The fruit of labour is indeed sweet. So go & try it. This laddu is made by all communities in Mangalore, especially during Ganesh Chathurti. The festive season is in full swing in India, so you can still make these now (or all year round too if you please!)

Laayi Pitte Undo (Broken Puffed Paddy & Jaggery Balls)
Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 5-10 mins | Yield 10-12 lime sized balls

For the drop test (to check the readiness of the jaggery syrup):
1. Measure the puffed paddy and keep it ready. In a heavy based skilled/non stick tawa dry roast the sesame seeds on a slow heat till they begin to pop. Remove on a plate and allow to cool. On the same tawa roast the cashew nut bits until they are pale golden in colour and let out a nice aroma. Remove and cool.
2. In a heavy based kadhai/wok, add 1-2 tablespoons of water and add the jaggery and on a very slow heat stir until it is mixed well and the mixture begins to froth. Check the readiness of the jaggery by adding one drop of the syrup into the bowl of water. If it dissolves into the water the syrup is not yet ready. If it settles at the base of the bowl and feels firm to the touch, it is ready.
3. Turn off the flame and allow to cool for a few seconds. Add the cardamom powder, roasted sesame seeds & cashew nuts and stir well. Add the puffed paddy in parts, while stirring to mix. Do this quickly as you need to make the laddus before the jaggery cools & becomes hard.
4. Grease your palms with ghee and get to work immediately. Pinch out enough mixture and pat to form a ball resembling Indian lemons. * see notes. Also, the mixture will be hot, but that's the only way you can roll the laddus before the jaggery hardens. Smoothen the surface by rolling the laddu between your palms.
5. Continue to roll laddus until all the mixture is used up. Place them on a plate and allow to cool completely. The laddus will harden when cooled. Store in an airtight box - they keep well for upto a week (if they last that long!)

While rolling the laddus DO NOT squeeze the mixture into a tight ball or else the laddus will turn really hard when cooled. Apply gentle pressure only to provide the round shape. The sticky jaggery will help bind and hold the mixture together. When they have cooled, the laddus will have a bite (like til laddus) but easily crumble in your mouth. But if you apply too much pressure and roll the laddus into tight balls they will harden. like rocks. 

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