Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Til Ke Laddoo for Dusshera

In a blink, this year's gone. And here we are, on the verge of another Diwali celebration. But for now, we're still at Dusshera.  One day last week, a friend and I got talking about the reasons we celebrate Navratris and Dussehra in our respective families. She's from a region near Hyderabad; and she said that Dusshera in her place is linked to the story of Mahishasur and they believe that he was killed on Dusshera day.  For us, growing up Dusshera was all about the killing of Raavan, and we'd be so excited about going to see the effigies of Raavan, Meghdoot, and Kumbhkaran go up in flames at dusk- to mark their demise. In retrospect, our festivities seem loud and boisterous compared to the celebrations down South!

In my family, we celebrate Dusshera in lieu of Bhai Dooj, which is the day after Diwali. Dusshera evenings saw my parent's home full of the extended family. All aunts, uncles and cousins gathered together for a cozy,  family dinner.  Traditionally, dinner on this day was a simple Moong-ki daal and boiled white rice topped with spoonful of ghee and boora (powdered sugar). The simplicity in food is, theoretically, in reverence of Raavan's death; who despite being an evil figure in Ramayana, was also a great scholar and warrior.  The story that my mom told us during the afternoon Pooja was the one that talked about Raavan's fervent devotion that forced the Lord to grant his boon of virtual immortality, and his love for his sister Shroopankha because of which he initiated the feud and the war.  So thats why all my family gathered together and brothers and sisters renewed the pledge of being there for each other in their times of need.  While the ghee and boora symbolized the sweet victory of good over evil for us, my MIL actually makes sweets- usually kheer.  This year, along with the usual, we also have a variety of sweets- besan ka laddoo and til ka laddoo- to herald in the festive season.

Til Ka Ladoo
(Sesame seed balls/fudge)
Til/ white sesame seeds 500g
Khoya/mawa 500g
Sugar powder 500g
Optional :Ghee/ Butter 8Tbsp/1stick (as needed)*
  1. Dry toast the sesame seeds on low/ medium low heat till slightly browned. Transfer to another bowl.
  2. Slightly crumble and toast the khoya in the same pan as til. Turn off heat, but keep warm.
  3. When the seeds are still warm, run them through a food processor. Also mix in the sugar and mix thoroughly.
  4. Transfer the whole contents to the still warm khoya. Stir to mix.
  5. Take small portions of this mixture between your palms and roll into ping-ping sized balls (laddoos). 
* If the mixture appears too dry, or doesn't hold together, mix in some melted ghee or butter till you can shape the laddoos.

My two cents: When I'm feeling too lazy, I just spread out the whole mixture in a cookie sheet and cut it in squares after a few hours- then I have burfis instead of laddoos :-)) In any case they are one of the easier and super tasty treats to come up with.  Try them for yourself, and have a de'light'ful festive season ahead.
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