First, let me wish all of you a happy and prosperous new year 2018. Days are quickly passing by and we are almost closing the first month of this year.
We celebrated Thai Pongal after missing celebrations for three years in a row. In these recent years, our celebrations are quite low key; to make ado for just two of us seems pointless. Nonetheless, to not celebrate, will never be my option. I love all the festivals and connected rituals and would not wish to skip.
Nostalgia sets in when between our sisters and cousins we reminisce the elaborate festive arrangements that used to take place in our childhood.
The other day, we were talking about the long hours we spent drawing the kolams for three nights in a row; the back breaking competition like effort we put in to show off our skills. One thing lead to another and we remembered helping arrange the flowers for the kaappu kattu on the Bhogi day and so on. Naturally we were asking each other about their choice of sweets and such.
I decided to move away from my comfort and go to Tirunrlveli halwa that I repeatedly made over years. I wanted to try doing something more healthy and less-on-effort sweet. I zeroed in on this easy and very quick, almost no cooking involved, laddoo with dry fruits. Last year for Ugadi, my friend had made it for us and we spoke about the recipe which goes by eyeball measures. However, I decided to measure in volume so I can keep a staple basic recipe and play around if I fancied. I have been keeping stock of nuts, seeds and dry fruits to snack on. So, it was quick to pull out a few and combine them in a delicious mix. I have used a small list of these. One can always put any nut, seed and dry fruit in any number of combinations. You can make it vegan by using coconut oil in the place of ghee.
Dry Fruits Laddoo
Makes 20 laddoos , small in size - about 1'' in diameter
2 cups roughly chopped fleshy dates ( packed somewhat tight )
1/3 cup almonds in skin
1/3 cups cashews broken in big pieces
1/3 cups unsalted pistachios
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
A pinch of nutmeg powder
4-5 strands of saffron
1 tablespoon ghee / clarified butter (divided)
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
Put a heavy and wide pan on heat. Dry roast the almonds until they are nicely warm, not browning quickly.
Add the pistachios and pumpkin seeds to the same pan and toss them around on low heat.
Add half of the ghee into this and drop the cashew nuts. Roast them until the cashews are golden in colour.
Add the saffron and the sesame seeds. Allow the sesame seeds to pop and remove the pan from the heat.
Allow the roasted nuts and seeds to cool down. Transfer them to a blending jar and pulse to a coarse powder that still has bits of the cashews and almonds that are not processed fully.
Transfer this nut mix to a wide bowl.
In the same blender jar pulp the dates roughly. Add to it the rest of the ghee and pulse further until it comes together in a mass. Few chucks of dates also left out in the process add a bite to the sweet.
Transfer the pulp to the nuts mixture, add the cardamom and the nutmeg powders.
Grease your palms, very lightly with ghee or coconut oil and gather the mixture in a slightly stiff dough like mass.
Pinch out small portions and roll them in laddoos/ balls.
Place the desiccated coconut in a flat dish and roll the laddoos in it to coat evenly on them.
Store in containers until need to use.
These have long shelf life. We have only just finished consuming all of them, ten days later.