Showing posts with label ramadan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ramadan. Show all posts

Jun 10, 2016

Date and Crispy Rice Laddoos

dates puffed rice cereal sweet dessert ramadan easy laddoo balls recipe

"Laddoos" or "laddus" are ball shaped sweets popular in South Asia. Easy, eggless, and no bake these laddoos are a quick and delicious treat to make! Dates are simmered into a rich caramel then combined with crunchy puffed rice for a delicately crisp and divinely sweet indulgence. Perfect for Ramadan or any other holiday featuring lots of decadent goodies.

Here I've taken an old fashioned American recipe and "Desi-fied" it a little with cardamom and ghee. Variously called "humdingers" or simply "date balls" these tasty treats graced many a Thanksgiving and Christmas platter in my home when I was growing up in the US. For some reason we Americans love breakfast cereal in our sweets. Dates and rice are familiar favorites to the Desi palate so these are sure to please all around. 

Truly a crowd pleaser, this recipe was originally from my 1970's 4H cookbook. However, I've been making this for so long I know it by heart. From what I understand this recipe has been around with minor variations since the 1920's in the US. In the US you can buy 8oz bags of pitted dates that measure to about a cup which is what this recipe was written for. Pitted dates are not available in South Asia so I'd recommend using "wet pack" dates as shown in the above photo. They are fairly inexpensive and are very good quality for use in baking and cooking. I do have to pit them myself which is a bit of a sticky chore. The bag you see in the photo is the standard 500g package available here which yields about 2 cups of chopped and pitted dates. When using the 500g bag as shown in the photo I simply double the ingredients in the recipe below. If you wish to make these vegan just substitute coconut oil or a good quality vegetable margarine for the butter or ghee. These are so yummy and in less than an hour you can easily whip up about 48 to 50 laddoos for any special occasion or just an after school treat!

1/2 C butter, ghee, or coconut oil
3/4 C sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
7 - 10 green cardamoms/elaichi, seeds removed & coarsely ground (optional)
1 C dates, chopped & pitted
3 C rice crispy cereal
1 C desiccated coconut or 1/2 C powdered sugar

Here's what to do:
1) In a large heat safe mixing bowl measure out rice crispy cereal.

2) In a heavy bottomed saucepan combine sugar, dates, salt, vanilla, cardamom, and butter or ghee.

3) Over medium heat bring to simmer while stirring constantly. Allow to simmer for 3 minutes,  keep stirring constantly so the mixture does not scorch.

4) Remove cooked date mixture from heat, immediately pour over pre measured rice crispy cereal in heat proof bowl. Mix well with wooden or silicone spoon. Allow mixture to cool for about 10 minutes.

5) When mixture has cooled roll by tablespoonful into walnut sized balls. I use a tablespoon sized cookie scoop to get uniform amounts.

5) Roll the balls in desiccated coconut or powdered sugar as desired. A round cake tin or shallow bowl works well for this. Keeps well in a sealed airtight for up to two weeks. (But they only last about two days around our house because everyone eats them.)

Helpful hints:
If you wish to make these vegan just substitute coconut oil or a good quality vegetable margarine for the butter or ghee.

Jun 7, 2016

Keep Calm And Prepare For Ramadan

It's time for Ramadan! Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims unite in a holiday of fasting, feasting, prayer, and spiritual reflection. The annual month-long fast is one of the five pillars of Islam and is considered to be the holiest time of year.

Ramadan is the month which the Holy Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. The Holy Koran (literally meaning "the recitation") is the central religious text of Islam. Thus Ramadan is believed to be the holiest month of the year. During this holy month Muslims are to refrain from food and liquid from dawn to sunset, and renew their focus on prayers and recitation of the Holy Koran. All Muslims are encouraged to complete the full recitation of the Holy Quran at least once during the month. 

During Ramadan Muslims who are physically able are required to fast every day of the month from sunrise to sunset. Fasting is called sawm which is the Arabic word for "to refrain." Those who are fasting are referred to as being rosa. Not only must Muslims refrain from food and drink (including water) during the fast but also evil thoughts, actions, and speech. 

Before dawn every day during Ramadan there is a pre-fasting meal called suhur or suhoorTaking suhur is considered a blessing. In Islamic communities there is traditionally a man called a meseraharati who roams the dark pre-dawn streets clanging bells, beating drums, and yelling loudly to wake everyone up to partake of suhur

At sunset there is a banquet-like meal called iftar in which the daily fast is broken. Iftar is a religious observance often done as a family or community. Traditionally but not mandatory, three dates are eaten to break the fast as did the Prophet Muhammad. After that all manner of fruits, sweets, and juices are served followed by savory dishes and lots of desserts.

The month of Ramadan culminates with the three-day Eid Al Fitr holiday celebrating the end of the fast. Marked by a special morning prayer, the days are a form of spiritual elevation and a chance to implement the spiritual lessons learnt throughout the month. Muslims dress in their best and go about visiting friends and relatives promoting a sense of community.

Although I won't be preparing lunch, dinner, and tea time snacks during Ramadan I will be preparing all sorts of dishes to send to the iftar observance at our mosque every evening. We will be hosting iftar for our little community in our home a few times also. Hopefully, I'll be doing lots of posts on what I'm cooking and preparing as well as events we attend and host. 

Wishing you a joyous and blessed Ramadan,
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