Since I am on the theme of sweets and desserts here is one of my favourite recipes for one of the most common Maharashtrian sweets, Besan (chickpea flour) Laddoo, of which we always have some in our home.
Chickpea, and other pulses are important ingredients in the Indian diet. Approximately 25 percent of Indians are vegetarians, and lentils and grams are a great and healthy source of protein . India is the world's largest consumer and producer of chickpea.The major cultivation of Desi chickpea is in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Besan / Chickpea flour is mostly made from desi chickpeas as the imported variety from Mexico , Turkey and Australia are perceived to be bitter in comparison. Chickpeas from Tanzania and Myanmar are closest to the desi chickpea in taste, so you could try getting flour made from those types if you live elsewhere in the world.
Besan is used for several concoctions here and laddoos made from it are popular.
Laddoos are also the most common form of sweets offered during pujas and festivals. Lately they seem to be a way of raising funds for temples and community welfare. 21 kg ladoos!!
These are slightly less ambitious in size but the taste is stupendous.
3/4 cup pure ghee
4 cups besan- chickpea/garbanzo bean flour
A pinch of saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp of milk( optional)
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp powdered elaichi / green cardamom ( about 18 cardamoms)
- Heat ghee in a kadhai and add the besan. Cook on a low fire stirring continuously.
- The flour changes colour, becoming darker, and after some time the ghee separates from the flour ( do not become impatient and add extra ghee !) Don't let the mixture get too dark either.
- Now add the saffron milk to the flour, the powdered sugar and cardamom powder. Mix well.
- Remove the kadhai from the fire. Let it become cool enough to handle. Roll into balls about the size of a small walnut.
- Makes about 2 dozen laddoos. Keeps well in an airtight box.