Saturday, 5 November 2016

Sleight of hand laadu

Vegan and Low-Sugar Besanacha Laadu

Besan laadus are loved by one and all – right from our modest middle class Marathi homes, to the flamboyant filmy families – yes, those made by “Maa with her own hands”.

I wonder how “Maa” can make them with someone else’s hands….

Talking about mothers and hands, my Aai always rolled laadus with both her hands.

A large portion of the laadu mixture was made into a rough ball shaped with both the hands cupping it, the heel of the hand and the two middle fingers dexterously rotating in opposite directions.  This process was supervised by the artistically curved fore and little fingers, who didn’t realise they were only being kept on this post as they didn’t have a role to play in the real process

The result was a perfectly round large ball of unqualified happiness.

But…. this was in the days when people ate whole and big laadus without a worry.

With time and with our growing health considerations to limit or eliminate sugar and fats from our diets, the size of laadus is getting smaller and smaller.

And there is nothing more irritating than watching a perfect laadu made with such love and care, being broken and scattered and totally wasted.

The only way to do justice to a laadu is to bite into it. Or better still - roll them with only one hand, I mean - smaller, so you could pop a whole laadu into your mouth.

There are other types of sleights of hand we need to learn and practice all the time.

For the last few years since my daughters have become vegan, I have started experimenting with alternate fats in the making of sweets, especially the besan laadu.

Having tried olive oil, vegan margarine, I have now zeroed in on making these laadus in RBD Coconut oil, which is refined, bleached, and deodorized coconut oil, for it mimics the properties of ghee or toop, and there is absolutely no flavour or smell of coconut to this oil.

Microwaving besan and ghee/coconut oil is a very quick process as the actual roasting is done in a few minutes – the only issue with this is you need to microwave in short bursts and remove the bowl and stir the besan thoroughly.

Another advantage is that you can also use significantly less amounts of ghee or oil when you make roast the besan in a microwave, as it the mixture does not need to be stirred all the time while roasting.

As a result of being low fat, the laadus retain their shapes better and do not “sit” – a literal translation of Marathi - लाडू बसले :) 

You can cut out or cut down cane sugar from the laadu by using Splenda or sucralose in this laadu, as it can be mixed just as you would mix the powdered sugar. You can make the laadus with only Splenda, but it leaves an unpleasant aftertaste and lacks the full body that sugar gives.

But there’s something for this in my bag of tricks! 

Some powdered sugar completes the taste left a little lacking by the substitutes –after all you make these once a year for Diwali, which of course is unimaginable without these besan laadus. 


2 cups laadu besan (this is coarse chick pea flour – also known as laadu besan)
¾ cup refined organic coconut oil – this works just as ghee does- except for the flavour – but if you ignore that, you wouldn’t know it’s not ghee!
2 cups powdered sugar  - I used a mixture of ¾ cup powdered sugar and ½ cup Splenda powder (sucralose) but you could vary the proportion.
1 tsp powdered cardamom


In a microwave proof bowl, melt the coconut oil. Add the besan and mix well with your hand till you get a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs.

Place the bowl in microwave and set on maximum temperature for 1 minute.

After 1 minute take out bowl form the microwave and mix thoroughly. Repeat this 2-3 times, taking care to mix thoroughly each time, until the mixture has cooled considerably.

The microwaves cook the insides of the besan mixture, so the besan actually gets roasted more than it shows form the outside. Hence, it’s important to stir and mix thoroughly and making sure that the temperature’s come down considerably before placing the bowl back into the microwave.

At some point, the mixture becomes lighter as the besan gets dehydrated and becomes more fluid. This is also when it starts to ooze out the oil.

From this point onwards, you should keep a keen look out for the colour of the besan, especially from deep within the mixture.

After about 3 - 4 minutes, you should get the besan roasted to a darker shade of golden brown.

Remove the bowl and continue to stir the mixture, as it continues to cook in its own heat.

When the mixture cools down add the powdered sugar and Splenda and the powdered cardamoms.

Mix well and roll out small laadus. These laadus don’t need refrigeration and last well for a few weeks.

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