November 20, 2012

The joyous treat - Besan Sooji / Besan Rava ladoo

Time surely has some mighty wings..coz it always flies by in a blink. At times, it’s so hard to believe that it’s been almost 2 years since I first tried my hand at besan ladoo and out of sheer enthusiasm posted it on Facebook. It was just a very na├»ve beginning to something I had no idea would turn out to be such a game (life?) changer. The legacy of posting pictures of any dish I was successful-at-my-first-try continued until the beginning of this year when it turned out to be a little more serious than that. This blog came into existence and it’s been a whole different journey since. I had always wished food to take a more sincere place in my life and besan ladoo seems to have been just a very auspicious start :)

My history with this recipe dates back to 2010 when my Ma was preparing this for Diwali and it piqued my interest so much that I had to try making it. Memories connect back to those days when my grandma would prepare these ladoos for us kids to gorge on with my sister being the most ardent fan of these delights. So being well aware of the emotional attachment of besan ladoo and Diwali, I took on the challenge.My first try at besan ladoo had turned out good but well not without its own share of mistakes – it had too much ghee. So this time around I made sure that the amount of ghee (even though it might not look a lot) was controlled, so that everyone feels comfortable gorging on these scrumptious snack/ sweet. To add a bit of crunchiness to the otherwise smooth textured ladoos, I added in the rava (sooji/semolina) along with some ghee roasted cashews and raisins.This time around I was very satisfied to have balanced both my adventurous and the health conscious self by balancing out the ghee.A big step ahead to start with :)

Besan Sooji ladoo / Besan Rava ladoo

This festive sweet typifies the perfect blend of the nuttiness of chick pea flour along with the crunch from coarse wheat semolina (sooji/rava), roasted till fragrant in ghee. Cashews and raisins add to the richness of this otherwise effortless treat.It forms quite a pair with the salty Chivda as Diwali faraal.

Ingredients: (Makes 20 ladoos using 1 T scoop)
2 C Besan/Chickpeas Flour
¾ C Sugar (I used cane sugar)
¼ C Rava / Sooji/ Wheat Semolina coarse
½ C Ghee 
¼ tsp Cardamom powder
2 T Roasted Cashews (Optional)
1 T Raisins (Optional)

1.  Dry roast both the besan and sooji separately on a low flame for about 10 minutes. The besan becomes fragrant while the sooji should be very evenly “light browned”. Keep stirring for an even roast.
2.  In a separate pan, add in 1 T of ghee and fry the raisins and the cashews till - the raisins plump up and the cashews are slightly browned. Keep aside.
3.  Add the rest of the ghee to a wide pan over low flame, and add in the roasted besan and sooji to it. Mix well to smoothen out any lumps.
4.  Roast the ghee-besan–sooji mixture till its fragrant and the mixture has a light brown tinge to it.
5.  Turn off the heat and then add in the sugar, cardamom powder, cashews and raisins. Stir to mix.
6.  Let the mixture cool till its tolerable to make ladoos. I used a 1 T scoop to measure out the ladoos and rolled them out by hand.

Some handy notes:
1. I used granulated cane sugar instead of the powdered one. It just adds in more  to the crunch. Opt out of it, if you like your ladoos smoother.
2. Roasting and continous stirring over a low flame is the key. The mixture can burn very easily, so make sure to stir and be around the stove.
3. These ladoos stays very well for about 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator and is a great source of protein (from the chick pea flour) and energy (from ghee and sugar). A great snack when eaten of course in moderation.

I served these Besan- rava ladoos along with the home made Chivda to all my friends who had come over for Diwali. It was just very touching to be able to reach out to everyone I had wanted to while I was preparing these treats. An honest and heartfelt intention rarely goes unnoticed :). Here's hoping these treats made all those who tasted these as much happy as I was while making them. This Diwali became just too special and here's wishing for an even better Thanksgiving :)

Have a great Thanksgiving folks!
Love and good wishes,

I am sending this entry to:
- "Lets celebrate-Indian sweets" hosted by UK Rasoi
- "My Diwali basket" hosted by Thou shalt cook
- "Diwali food fest" hosted by Anu
- "Bon Vivant #10: Festive feast" hosted by Sumee.
- "Diwali Dishes" hosted by Cook's Joy

November 4, 2012

Ushering in Diwali with Chivda a.k.a. Chuda mixture

Being away from something that you absolutely adore makes you feel in either or both of these ways – intermittent feelings of guilt for not paying attention and/or the unnerving tinge of self- doubt on returning to doing it. At this moment I feel the second while the first has been bothering me all this while I was away from this blog. Even though I am very thankful that new and exciting experiences like organizing events, teaching a class and learning a group dance, have been keeping me away, it nonetheless kept bothering me with the question – when am I writing my next post? Well now that I am back, that answers it I guess. Having done with explaining my absence from the blog, I shall now move on to the real reason and motivation of today’s post a.k.a. the Chivda.

Relieved of my responsibilities as an event planner, I was now left with the much needed space to finally think of making something for Diwali. Diwali and snacks almost seem synonymous and my first post on the series of Diwali snacks is devoted to the delicious and healthy snack – the Chivda. The fact that is so appealing to me about this decadent snack is its utmost soothing simplicity and clarity of ingredients. This snack has not been part of my growing up but I must confess that I have definitely grown to love it ever since the time I first tasted it from a friend’s Diwali-goodies packet sent from India. I have been in awe ever since. So simple yet so intricate and so delicate yet with so much clarity, is what makes this snack stick with me. Over these five years of my interaction with several Maharashtrians, I have tasted different and interesting versions of it and each time I would make a mental note of what I liked and what I didn’t.

So here’s my version of this snack which I have tried my best to make as close to the original as possible. And as with each new process, I was reconfirmed with one aspect of any recipe – the perfect balance of sweet, salty and sour – is essential for any recipe.

Chivda/ Chuda mixture

Crisp and oven roasted, thin flattened rice comes alive with a tempering that bonds together the zestiness of curry leaves along with the nuttiness of ground nuts and split chick peas. A very simple, distinct and healthy snack- this recipe is a keeper – Diwali or no Diwali. Also popularly known as Chuda mixture in Odia.


1 lb Thin flattened rice/ Thin Poha (Easily available in any Indian store)

For the tempering:
¼ C Peanut oil
200 g raw peanuts
100 g Dalia/ Split Chick Peas
¼ tsp Asafetida / Hing
Handful of curry leaves
5-6 Dried red chillies/ Fresh green chillies
1½ tsp Cumin seeds/ Jeera
¼ tsp Turmeric powder

Salt to taste
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp Amchur (Dried mango powder)

1.   Dry roasting the poha – The very traditional way of roasting on the stove top is effective but tedious. So burdened with having to stir the Poha I decided to place it in the oven and so thankful that I did.
Using the oven method: Spread out the poha on a sheet pan lined with wax paper (optional). Pre heat the oven to 350oF. Then place the sheet pan in the oven and dry roast for 10-12 minutes. Check once in between to stir for a uniform heat. The poha should feel crisp to touch and white in color.
2.   For the tadka: In a separate pan, add in half the oil and the peanuts right after. Stir fry the peanuts over medium heat till fragrant (2-3 minutes.) Once done, scoop them out to a separate plate.
3.   Then add in the dalia and roast it for 1-2 minutes till fragrant. Add in a pinch of turmeric powder to get a golden yellow color to the dalia. Scoop out into the peanut plate.
4.   Now add hing to the oil over medium heat and then add in the chillies and the curry leaves. Stir for a minute.Then stir in the cumin seeds till fragrant.
5.   Now add in the peanuts and dalia to the oil. Sprinkle the turmeric powder and stir for another minute.
6.   Meanwhile, transfer the crisp poha into a mixing bowl and then stir in the tadka/ tempering. Now add in the salt, sugar and amchur while the mixture is still hot.
7.   Adjust the final mixture according to taste and store in air tight containers.

The final result was as close to my imagination as possible with the only thing that I really missed was the dried coconut.This time I managed without it but I will definitely add it in whenever next I lay my hands onto it. 

So while I decide on the next Diwali snack, you guys have a great time :)

I am submitting this recipe to :
- "Fest celebration - Diwali" by Preeti and Surabhi
- "Diwali Bash" by Vardhini
- "Kid's delight: Healthy Makeovers" hosted by Rasi
- "Diwali food fest" hosted by Anu
- "Bon Vivant #10: Festive feast" hosted by Sumee.
- "Diwali Dishes" hosted by Cook's Joy