Smita picked up the parcel that was left at her doorstep by Canada Post. It was more bulky than heavy. Standing on the snow covered steps, she visualized a beautiful, pleasant, sunny day. Her mother sitting on the low stool carefully measuring each ingredient, first running her fingers swiftly through the nuts or seeds, discarding the husks, washing, grinding, and finally assembling the Laddus. Smita knew that more than any other ingredient it was a generous amount of love that was binding the Laddus.
A little kick inside her brought her back to the present. If only she could travel that fast, she thought. Two oceans separated her and her mother, half way across the world. Smita pushed the door with her back and stepped inside. The last few months had changed her body such that she needed extra room to move around. A new life was growing inside her.
Being a registered nurse herself she thought she had experienced it all. Far from the truth. Everyday she marvelled at how the little bump inside her was evolving. From seemingly nothing it took shape. “The little extensions were for arms and legs”, her doctor had showed her on the fuzzy black and white ultrasound picture. She even let her listen to the baby’s heartbeat…
…”The saunf, ajwain will help in digestion, the Punjeeri will help in lactation and gaining your strength back” her mother reminded her over Skype the other day. Excitedly telling her how to bathe and massage her new grand baby. Holding the bundle of joy close to her heart Smita was convinced that it was nothing less than a miracle. A tiny human complete with eyebrows above the eyes and nails at the end of the little fingers. After becoming a mum herself she realized no amount of reading or working in the same field could prepare her for this experience. As she bit into the Punjeeri Laddu that her mum had sent her all the way from India, she suddenly remembered her Anatomy teacher. “Any time you have a tiff with your mother”, he had said, “bow down, look at your belly button and remember your debt to her”.
Recipe: Made 20 pieces
Whole wheat flour One cup
Almonds coarsely chopped Three quarter cup
Melon seeds, washed One quarter cup
Fox nuts ( Makhana ) Half cup cut in pieces
Pistachios One Quarter cup chopped
Ghee Three quarter cup
Edible gum ( Gaund ) Half cup broken in pieces
Sugar One and quarter cup
Carom seeds ( Ajwain ) One tsp crushed
Dried ginger powder ( Sonth ) One tsp
Fennel powder ( Saunf ) One tsp
Cardamom powder One tsp
Water Half cup
Dry roast the melon seeds for a minute till it popped. Collect them in a container and keep aside.
Take one Tbsp of ghee in the same wok and fry the Makhana for a few minutes till crunchy. Keep it aside. Take another two Tbsp of ghee and add the Gaund, fry for a few minutes. Look for changes in colour and increase in volume. Collect them in a bowl.
Take the rest of the ghee and add the flour. Roast it for four to five minutes stirring constantly. To this add the almonds, pistachios, ajwain, sonth, fennel seed powder, cardamom powder, Gaund, melon seeds and Makhana and mix well.
In a separate bowl take half cup of water, add three quarter cup of sugar and bring it to a boil. Let it reach 220 degrees centigrade. Use a candy thermometer. Pour this syrup over the flour mixture. Switch the gas off. Mould into golf ball size dumplings while still warm.
Enjoy with a glass of milk.
Gluten free version;
Substitute one cup grated coconut in place of whole wheat flour and follow the same recipe.
Melon seeds known as Charmagaz, Foxnuts known as Phool makhana, Edible gum also known as Gaund are available in Indian grocery store.
Each family will usually have their own recipes. I have followed the recipe from Manjula’s kitchen with very minor changes.
I had used the Gluten free Sunblest Organic Coconut flour from Costco. I felt a couple more Tbsps of ghee would’ve made the gluten free Laddus more moist.
Beautiful writing and photos xxx