Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two year birthday, Rakshabandhan....and Besan-ka-Laddu.

Time flies...literally. Can't believe I started writing this blog two years ago today. I haven't really marked any milestones for my writing till now. But today, as I sat here penning my thoughts, I realized that my first post on this blog also celebrated the festival of Rakshabandhan. A nostalgic look back, and I realize that I wrote down the recipe for Paneer Nargisi exactly two years ago. So let me begin by thanking you all for your readership and support. I've made many new friends through this blog, and have gained a lot of exposure in the blogosphere. It couldn't have been possible about you all.

Another co-incidence is that my recipe for today is a Mithai (sweet) - just what we need to celebrate both a festival and a birthday.
I haven't made any sweet treats for the family in a while, and I realized this as soon as the first batch was made- everything disappeared within the next 24hrs; of which the 10hrs. was night time!! The second batch was made the very next day by popular demand; but it didn't last any longer than the first. Thankfully, I was prudent enough to take pictures before I handed  out the bowl to my girls!

I honestly don't make any mithai by myself - the biggest hold back being that I usually don't keep a lot of ghee on hand. Recently a friend told me how she makes ghee from unsalted butter and that was my inspiration. I wanted to learn to make my own ghee, and then use it for something that I knew my family would love.  I picked up the simplest mithai I recall from my mom's recipes. I also believed, then, that these laddus would last us till Rakshabandhan on Aug 13th.......I couldn't have been any more wrong!

Besan ka Laddu much as you get from 1 stick of unsalted butter (see below)
Besan/gram flour 1 cup + 3Tbsp
Sugar  1cup

To make Ghee
  •  Melt 1 stick of unsalted butter in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat - I used a kadai that could hold everything till the very end.

  • As the butter melts and boils, I saw a lot of bubbles appear on top. Use a spatula to move these bubbles to a side.

  • After a while, the  melting butter clears off, and becomes colorless- this is our ghee/ clarified butter. 

  • If saving for another day, turn off the heat, allow to cool and pour off into another bottle.
To make Laddus
  • If not, now is the time to put your besan in. Roast the flour on medium-low flame till it turns a light brown, and a nice aroma rises from it. Keep stirring all the while to avoid lumps. Took me about 20 min. to get to this.
  • Now turn off the heat, and add sugar. Give it all a final stir. Then allow to cool.
  • When cool enough to handle, make small balls (laddus) out of this. Don't worry if they appear a little soft; they'll harden as they cool completely.
My two cents: Here are a couple of things that instantly come to mind. First I put my sugar in the hot besan, and left it all in the same hot kadai to cool off. This gives a nice caramelized look and a lovely dark brown color to my laddus. I like it like this. If you don't, you can wait for the flour to cool off a little before adding the sugar. You can also transfer everything to another bowl to stop the coloring that comes from roasting in a hot pan.

Rakhis we made.....for us and cousins
Secondly, when you first add the besan, it soaks up the ghee and looks lumpy and dry. But as it cooks, the ghee slowly starts to ooze out from the sides and the whole thing looks very smooth. This is when you turn off the heat and add sugar.

And finally, I got 18 small (ping-pong ball sized) laddus from this measure. They're gone already, but I still have the rakhis we made for Saturday!