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Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Gur Gaund Ladoos (Molasses Gum Balls)

Recipe-in-1

Most Indian sweet dishes are based on using sugar, either added directly like in halwas (puddings) or burfis (condensed milk squares) or in a syrup form like in gulab jamun (rose milk balls) or jalebis (fried swirls). But there are several tasty desserts which are made with gur (jaggery) although most are in the form of popular snacks like this recipe.

Gur is the solid brown, unrefined, coalesced natural product of boiling sugar cane juice in round bottom vats till it is dry. It is a brown raw mass made of up to 50% sucrose, 20% invert sugars and 20% moisture with the remainder made up of other insoluble matter, such as wood ash, proteins, and bagasse fibers from which it gets its color. Bagasse is the dry pulpy residue that remains after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice and is also used as a bio fuel and to produce pulp and building materials.

A close relative of mine, Manju Manek, introduced this ladoo (sweet flour ball) recipe to me, and it is unusual as it uses edible gaund (gum) crystals to bind the ingredients together and give it a unique crunchy taste. Usually sold as gaund katira, these white or brown gum crystals are usually eaten in cold winter months to provide heat to the body by strengthening the immune system. It is commonly used in herbal Ayurvedic medicine to treat cough, diarrhea and cure mouth ulcers.

In the Punjab, after childbirth, women are often given as ladoos or pinjiri (a sweet flour powdered mix) mixed with gaund crystals to help with a speedy recovery and during nursing their babies. Gaund is sold in small packets in stores and is said to help reduce back pain. The ladoos are also popular across Harayana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. They are called Dinkache Ladoo in Maharashtra (dink in Marathi means edible gum) where methi (fenugreek seed) is also added and in Gujarat, they are known as Gundar Ladoo.

These ladoos have the softness of pinnis (sweet wheat flour balls) and the gum binds all the ingredients together, with of course the ghee and almonds adding a rich taste. It is a handy and timely recipe for the winter months because it is fairly easy to make and is hard to resist.

 

Ingredients:

• 500gm gur (rock molasses)
• ½ cup atta (wheat flour)
• ½ cup badam atta (almond flour) – coarse
• 1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
• 1 tsp pissi illachi (cardamom powder)
• ½ pkt gaund (gum) crystals

 

Directions:

1. Place the ghee in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and stir till golden brown.
2. Add the almond flour. If not available, coarsely crush some whole almonds in a mixer. Stir till the almonds are slightly brown.
3. Break the gur into smaller pieces and throw in the skillet and let them melt.
4. Add the cardamom and stir well for 2 minutes. Test the melted gur to see if it runs a sticky ribbon when stirred and touched.
5. Turn the heat off, throw in the gaund pieces and stir well and quickly to coat them and make sure they do not clump together.
6. When cool to touch, grease your palms with a dab of oil, take a small amount of the mixture and roll into 1 inch round balls or ladoos.
7. Place the ladoos a plate to let them cool off; when cool place in an air-tight jar so that they don’t become humid.

 

MAMA’S TIP OF THE WEEK: USE VINEGAR TO MAKE A NATURAL AIR FRESHENER

Much of Indian cooking relies on herbs and spices that are roasted before being made into a curry and these often leave a strong aroma in not only the kitchen but also the whole house. It can be a hard smell to get rid of especially when you are expecting guests! Using a store-brand air freshener often just masks the smell but doesn’t eliminate it.

I found a recipe for an air freshener that is both organic, easy to make and inexpensive. In a pump spray bottle, put in one teaspoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of white vinegar and two cups of water. After the foaming stops, screw on the lid and shake well. Spray the mixture into the air and the odors will disappear.

 

 

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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India (since renamed Faisalabad) before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her late-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share her delectable Punjabi vegetarian recipes for future generations.

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