Have you noticed how children love sticky, chewy sweets? Things that are loath to let go of their teeth.That have the inherent capacity to hang on...for a long time.Fudge is one, marshmallow another, aam papad,chikki, nougat ; anything, the traces of which can be found long after ingestion, that serve as little reminders of past pleasures.A lick around the chops and , what do you know, I found a bit. Like a camel with it's selective retention of feed particles in different chambers.
I confess to the same delight in glutinous stuff. Stuff like dinkache ladu.
This famous Maharashtrian sweet is made with 'dink', as it is known in Marathi or 'gaund'as it is known in Rajasthan, which is an edible gum, a resin from the axle-wood tree.
Dink is not to be mixed up with gum arabica which comes from the Acacia nilotica or the Babhul tree . Gum Arabica is used in many confectionaries and foods. It played a starring and notorious role in an urban legend.The one that was put about claiming Osama Bin Laden's wealth originated from mighty stores of gum arabica which he sold from his vast orchards of Acacia Arabica in Sudan. Shipments of the same were promptly cancelled in the US for a while. When it was discovered that this was a myth, gum arabica imports continued.
Anogeissus latifolia or the Dhawda is a very useful tree. Besides producing a resin called ghati gum ,which is also used in dyeing calico, as a binding agent in pharmaceuticals where it is known as Gummi Indicum, and is also supposed to have medicinal qualities, it's leaves provides fodder for animals and Tussore silkworms are fed on them.The leaves and bark are also used for tanning, the wood for firewood, and the flowers for bees, in apiculture.
The tree is also known as tiruman in Andhra Pradesh, vekali in Tamil ,dinduga in Kannada malkanjiram, tellamadi, dhemodo,chirimanu and a host of other names across India.
It is for it's medicinal properties that the resin is used in this ladu /sweetmeat. It is, traditionally, fed to lactating mothers and is supposed to help in increasing nutrients to the new born baby as well as in preventing backache after childbirth.It is also given to children in cold weather as dried fruits are supposed to be 'heating'.
- 2 1/4 cups Copra grated fine
- 1/2 cup Khus Khus/ Poppy seeds
- 1/4 cup finely slivered Almonds
- 1/4 cup broken cashewnuts
- 1/4 cup pista sliced fine
- 1 1/2 cups Ghee
- 3/4 cup atta/ wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups date powder
- 1 1/2 cups 'Dink'/ resin
- 3/4 cup Caster sugar
- 2 1/4 cups Gur /Jaggery, shaved into small bits.
- 3 tsps Zaiphal / Nutmeg powder
- 2 tsps Elaichi/ Cardamom powdered
Roast the copra on a griddle/ tawa till pink in colour and dry.Take off fire.Break into smaller bits with a rolling pin. Roast the poppy seeds on the griddle till slightly coloured, stirring constantly.Take off the heat and grind into a powder.Roast all three dried fruits lightly and break into coarse bits.Roast the wheat flour on a griddle with a tablespoon of the ghee. Roast very lightly to take off the raw smell and give it a pale golden brown colour. Be careful not to burn it. Now roast the date powder on a dry griddle for a few minutes.
Mix the sugar and gur together.
Heat 1/4 cup of ghee and add the 'dink' resin stirring occasionally till it swells and pops.Take off fire and powder.
Mix all the ingredients including the nutmeg and cardamom powder.
Heat up the ghee and pour over the sugar and gur mix.
Now swiftly combine all ingredients with the sugar ,gur and ghee, mix thoroughly and form into balls immediately.It helps to smear some ghee on your hands while forming the ladus.
Though I recall this process as taking ages when I was young it is actually quite easy to make. In childhood, anticipation can really stretch time, from hours into aeons.