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A handful of Mothers love. (maa ladoo)

(Linking this post to the Dec 10th 2011 Terra Madre event hosted by Pritya Books)

Memories of my mother making this exquisite snack abound. She'd whip it up as a treat hoping to surprise me after I woke up from my afternoon nap as a child, but somehow the hum from the coffee grinder always ensured that I'd be up & awake to watch her making it., she'd freshly powder the special garbanzo flour, followed by the sugar & cardamom, melt the ghee & simultaneously toast a generous handful of broken cashews as it melted. She would then combine the sugar, flour, cashews and the hot ghee, and immediately scoop up a fistful of the scalding hot mixture to shape into a ball, There would be a momentary wince of pain flashing across her eyes as she laid down this glorious cream colored ping pong ball of pure love on a plate. When I asked her why she had to go through the pain of making it, her answer would always be, "it transfers my love onto the ladoo, and I know you've received it when I see you enjoy these.. Now wait for them to cool before you pick one". 

The flour in this dish is made from roasted chickpeas. I'm not sure about the process that converts the chickpea into this powdery state, I know for a fact that it is NOT the chickpea flour sold as 'Besan'. The Roasted split garbanzo is available in Indian grocery stores and is referred to as 'Dalia Dal' (in Hindi) or 'pottu kadalai' (in Tamil). Its firm to touch but will crumble into a cornflour-like soft powder when pressed between the fingers. 

Taste the whole pea before you powder it to use in the recipe, since they tend to get rancid pretty quickly. You need to have fresh tasting starting material here!

One of the strongest warnings from Amma when making this recipe was, 'NO skimping on the amount of ghee', The ghee is what binds the ingredients together and reducing the amount is a sure fire way of getting a substandard confection that crumbles to the touch.

I opted to use confectioners sugar instead of powdering sugar for this recipe mainly because I'm chronically lazy & cleaning my spice grinder to powder some sugar seemed like too much work, and also because I had a lot of confectioners sugar sitting in my pantry & no cakes to frost! 

Reason for pulling out the silicone muffin/cupcake molds: as with the icing sugar, no cakes to bake & I had to do something with them beside simply steam idlies right?

Turned out these were a set of choices that perfectly complemented each other. The Icing sugar tends to melt under the heat of the melted ghee turning the entire mix into a thick cake batter consistency (after adding less than a third of the amount of ghee called for in the classic traditional recipe). Instead of trying to roll it into key lime sized balls, all I had to do was spoon the mixture into the silicone cups, & chill it to set! I opted to use pistachios for their bright green color (& also because the cashews had decided to disappear into the far recess of my pantry, where I kind of fear to tread unless absolutely necessary!)

For those of you interested in the  recipe for the classic version, I'll refer you to Edible Garden, a gorgeous blog specializing in recipes from God's own country, Kerala.

For the maladoo you need:

1 cup roasted split garbanzo beans (dalia dal)
1 cup, minus 1 tablespoon Icing/confectioners sugar
2/3 cup hot  melted ghee (You may not need it all)
10-12 cardamom pods, seeds powdered (about 1 tsp)
1/4 cup broken pieces of pistachio (optional)
3-4 Pistachios run through a microplane
1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron

  • Using a coffee grinder, powder the dalia dal to obtain a soft fine flour. Sieve to remove bigger gritty pieces. Add these crumbs back to the coffee grinder. Repeat process to obtain one cup of the flour.
  • Add the flour & confectioners sugar together in a large mixing bowl along with the Cardamom powder and crushed saffron.

  • Sift well with a whisk to ensure that the ingredients mix completely.

  • Fry the  broken pistachios in 2 tablespoons of ghee till crisp & just turning color. Add to the sugar & flour mix. Stir to evenly disperse the pieces.
  • Heat the ghee till completely melted & hot but NOT scorching. (the microwave & a pyrex measuring cup work best!)
  • Make a depression in the centre of the flour & sugar mixture and pour in the hot ghee , add just enough to coat the dry mixture & bring it together. Using a fork or silicone spatula, quickly fold in the dry mixture into the ghee and combine. 

  • The mix will have the consistency of cookie batter (the icing sugar melts in the heat of the ghee). Using a teaspoon, transfer the mix into the wells of the silicon mini muffin cups. Press the mix firmly into the cups with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.
  • Allow to set by chilling the muffin cups in the refrigerator.. (~ 1/2hour)
  • Peel off the silicone cups and place each piece into small paper cups. Sprinkle with the microplaned pistachio, prior to serving. Store in the refrigerator to ensure a yielding 'bite'. (applies only to summery warm weather).

 The love gets automatically transmitted via blue-tooth! Bon appetit!

An earlier version where I tried to mold them in a muffin tin.


  1. got nostalgic- ur words of how your mom used to make them just reminds me of my mom making it - nice read !

  2. Thanx Priya. That is exactly the emotion I wanted to invoke despite the dish being a panfusine avatar!

  3. These look delicious, would love to try this, but first have to get the Dahlia dal- hope I pick the right one..


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