Showing posts with label rice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rice. 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.

Mar 30, 2016

Tips & Tools: Of Rice & Rotis...

As you may or may not know carbohydrates are the main part of Desi meals. These staple carbohydrates usually take the form of rice or one of the multitudinous Desi flatbreads like rotis, chapattis, parathas, or naan. In general Desis fall into to two categories: rice eaters or roti eaters. Yes, there are regional as well as family preferences for taking meals with rice as their base or some sort of flatbread. Then you'll even see some families that take lunch with rice but dinner with rotis. Or any other combination or rice and flatbreads you can possibly think of. This can make planning a dinner party for Desi guests difficult.

The rice eating Desis like Kashmiris and Bengalis require soupier dishes. The soupy consistency is preferred because they squish the rice up with the sauce or broth to eat. This is not to say they forsake flatbreads entirely. Kashmiris eat a yeast risen tandoori cooked roti begotten at the local tandoori bakery for breakfast and with their afternoon tea. (Yes, they have tandoori bakeries in Kashmir, I will take pictures the next time I am there.) So if you are planning a meal for Bengali or Kashmiri guests you's better plan on serving rice and a few soupy or "rasedaar" (means juicy) dishes. If you are serving Kashmiris there better be some mutton or lamb on the table too or they'll be insulted.

Many roti eating Desis are from northern India. Punjabis and Biharis are largely roti eaters. They make take rice also but they probably eat rotis with at least one or two meals daily. Punjabis and Biharis generally eat one of the flatbreads like chapattis, parathas, or rotis that are quick to make at home.  Naan is made in a tandoori oven and is generally only eaten at a restaurant or take out. Roti eaters require thick gravies. No soupy sauces or broths for them. They wad up the rotis and scoop up the thick gravy with it. So if you are serving guests from Punjab or Bihar you'd better plan on serving rotis and dishes with thick gravies. 

As you can tell by the above photo Bibi's rotis are perfectly round and beautifully blistered with toasted speckles of loveliness. I'll have you know those perfectly round rotis are the mark of a Desi housewife "par exellence." What's Bibi's secret? These:

Yes, fresh from the freezer section at our local superstore Bibi buys her rotis prepared. After cooking 2 appetizers, 3-4 entrees, rice, 3 chutneys, and dessert for a dinner party I'll be darned if I'm going to roll out 30 rotis just as the guests are seated. Just heat up a dry nonstick pan for 5 minutes, pull these babies out of the freezer, lightly toast them on each side for 2 minutes- "et voila!" Bibi's the perfect hostess! Think that's cheating? Well, if you look closely this pack of prepared rotis is labelled for "restaurant use."  That's right, the pros use these too. And you know what, they are delicious!

This post on rice and rotis was brought about by some houseguests we had when we were first married. I noticed the rice was coming back untouched and the soupy Kashmiri dishes were left intact also. I asked my husband if our guests didn't like the food. My husband said, "Yes, they like the food but they eat rotis with dinner." Why did dear husband not tell me our guests were roti eaters?  I will never know. I have since learned the hard way to never ask husband specifically what dishes to serve for a meal. I now only ask where the guests are from, do they like rice, rotis, or both, and are they "veg" or "non veg."

Keep calm & curry on.
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