Today I am sharing my favorite sweets recipe. Like my absolute favorite recipe. SOOJI LADDOOS. Sooji is semolina and laddoos are little round balls made with some type of flour, sugar and spices. They are like tiny balls of sweet, buttery, milky and nutty deliciousness. Extremely simple yet complex at the same time. Every time my mum asks me which sweet I want for Diwali, this is the one I ask for. My sister asks for gulab jamun (recipe coming soon). So mum makes both. Actually, my sister and I help make the sweets too. Making sweets is a family event especially during Diwali. We start prepping a couple of weeks before Diwali. The whole house gets cleaned from top to bottom, extra special foods are purchased, sweets-making schedules are planned, sweets-sharing schedules are planned, new clothes are purchased for the whole family and the Diwali menu is planned. It is a lot of work but extremely fun! In Fiji, we all got a public holiday for Diwali. We got to light fireworks, decorate the whole yard with decorative candles and diyas and put up lights on the whole house. SO. MUCH. FUN.
Diwali is one of the biggest annual festivals we have. It is an extremely important holiday for us and one of my favorites. The date of the holiday is based on the lunar calendar, so it is never on the same day every year but it is held either in October or November. This year it will be on November 14th. At its most basic, Diwali is our New Year holiday. When we let the past go and start fresh in the new year. On a deeper level, it is also a religious holiday to celebrate the goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Many special prayers are performed on Diwali for the goddess Lakshmi and most people usually fast the whole day to honor her. Diwali is also celebrated because on this day, Lord Rama comes back home to Ayodhaya after fourteen years of exile. The whole kingdom celebrated and everyone lit diyas everywhere to welcome him back home. While in exile, Lord Ram's wife, Sita, was abducted by the demon, Ravan. Thus started an epic battle of good over evil in which Lord Ram along with his brother Lakshman and his ally Hanuman, had to put together an army, journey to Lanka and defeat an entire demon kingdom to rescue his wife and destroy evil. This story is found in the book called the Ramayan. One of the oldest texts we have in the world.
So Diwali is very important to us and making and sharing sweets is a very important part of the holiday. My mum, sister and I have a lot of fun making sweets together. Really special moments for me. Happy heart. Back to the laddoo recipe then. There are many kinds of laddoos out there but the sooji laddoos are my favorite. Hmmm. Maybe I should rephrase that. My Mum's sooji laddoos are the best and my absolute favorite. Mum also prefers sooji laddoos over the other kinds. Anyways. Once more back to the recipe. I keep digressing. The recipe is very straightforward but it does take some time. Basically, flour, semolina, milk powder are lightly "fried" over low heat in ghee and spices. This should take about fifteen minutes or so. It is very important to keep stirring and not let any one ingredient start to brown. The final mixture should still be powdery and light-colored.
Then once this mix is cooked and cooled, you use your hands to roll them out into little balls. You have to cool the mix a bit so that the ghee starts to clump up the other ingredients. Once the mix starts to clump, then you can start rolling. In the beginning you have to squeeze as tightly as you can to form a ball otherwise the laddoos will fall apart later on. So squeeze, roll and repeat until the laddoo is nice and tight. Then you can use both hands and gently roll the laddoo around to smooth out the laddoo. Place laddoos on lightly oiled surface for temporary storage. We like to brush a sheet pan with a light layer of ghee before starting to roll the laddoos.
You can eat them at this point but it would better to let the laddoos sit for at least an hour or overnight and let them dry out and set properly.
We usually take out a small batch to snack on until Diwali and save the rest for Diwali and sharing with family and friends! One bite of these laddoos and you will be hooked. There are so many things that go on in your mouth. Sweet, nutty, milky, buttery, powdery and slight spicy. Can't just have one. You have to try it for yourself!
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*This is a multi-stage recipe. Makes about 20 small laddoos.
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Post-cook time 30 - 60 minutes
1 cup AP flour
1 cup milk powder
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup ghee
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp nutmeg powder
On low heat. Melt ghee.
Mix well and cook for ten minutes or until slight browning occurs. Keep stirring constantly.
Add sugar and cardamom and nutmeg. Mix well.
TURN HEAT OFF. Add milk powder. Mix well.
Keep stirring continuously! Do not let the bottom start to brown or burn!
Remove pot from stove. Let cool.
When laddoo mix starts to cool and become more clumpy, ghee your hands, then take about 2 tsps of the laddoo mix and use your palms to tightly squeeze/shape into a ball. Place on lightly oiled sheet pan for temporary storage.
Repeat until all the laddoo mix is used and all laddoos are made. Laddoos can be eaten at this point but it would be best to complete the next step first.
Cover loosely. Let dry and set for at least an hour at room temperature in a clean place.
Serve and enjoy!
Laddoos can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week or two or in the fridge for about a month.
Storing laddoos in the fridge makes them a bit more hard so I would recommend letting them come to room temperature a bit before eating them. Or you are impatient like me, you can gnaw at them as they warm up a bit.