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March 2006

Dinkache Ladu-Remembrance of Things Past


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.

Dinkache Ladu

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.

Neem Juice

1.Make an infusion of neem leaves by pouring a cup of boiling water on 6 leaves. Let it stand for 10 minutes. Strain the water before drinking.This is supposed to be good for reducing fever.

2.Grind 20 neem leaves in a mortar to make a tablespoon of neem paste. Strain the pulp through a fine seive or cloth. Add some honey to the paste. Taken twice a day this is supposed to be good for high blood pressure. Taken on an empty stomach it is said to reduce blood sugar.

The recipes above are for information only. Please check with your doctor if you suffer from any condition that requires medical attention.

More about Neem

Mung Sprouts Salad with a Honey Dressing


Sprouts Salad

This recipe was sent by dear and old friend Amrita who has always produced inventive food, quite without fuss, while remaining a vocal and significant part of all discussions, arguments and conversations that were carried on in her hospitable living room.She sent it to share, in response to the Gajar Salad I posted a couple of weeks ago. It has the same health giving characteristics but tastes luxuriously different.

250 gms sprouted mung
100 gms cubed or crumbled paneer /cottage cheese.(You could substitute feta cheese but if you do cut down the salt in the recipe)
1 cup chopped spring onions.( I used 1/2 a plain red onion as I had no spring onions)
2 tbsp whole pudina /mint leaves
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley (or coriander)
1/2 tsp zest of lemon or 2 tsp of orange
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients. Add salt and mix well. Combine the honey and lime juice and pour over the salad just before serving.

Taken twice a day this is supposed to be good for high blood pressure. Taken on an empty stomach it is said to reduce blood sugar.