Recipes | Sugar Free Date Rolls and Millet Churma Ladoos – The Power of Food to Bring Back Good Memories
It’s that time of the year again, when all the roads lead to shopping malls and every house smells of delicious goodies and savories. Navaratri celebrations are barely over and Diwali is round the corner. Land of festivals – yes, that is India!
The festive spirit that pervades the air during Diwali is hard to ignore. So much so that even some of our non-Hindu neighbors find it hard to resist the temptation of buying new clothes and bursting crackers with friends. After all festivals are about spreading love and merriment.
Various legends associated to the origin of a festival in India leads to different rituals people follow to celebrate it which keeps the ‘amusement quotient’ quite high.
Diwali from dawn to dusk….Before my marriage (in Udaipur) the rituals of Diwali would begin late in the evening with a grand Lakshmi puja, lighting numerous earthen lamps or Diyas followed by bursting crackers and sharing sweets with neighbours.
After marriage (in Chennai) Diwali celebrations shifted to early mornings. A meticulous oil bath with indigenous herbs before dawn, wear new clothes, gulp bitter mandu (medicine) and burst crackers, when the other parts of India is in deep sleep.
Counting my lucky stars;
I received a call from the office of a very popular regional magazine Dinakaran, sometime back. The editor informed me that they are planning to feature 7-8 celebrities from various fields in Chennai with a traditional sweet recipe from their respective states in their special Diwali issue. And I am one among them.
“What“!? I almost screamed…err..huh…did I hear it right?
I don’t know why…but this quote by Himmilicious started ringing in my ears “Lucky : An idiot person with a punchable face who gets something what he doesn’t deserve.” Well, whatever may it be, as of now, I am counting my lucky stars….
And what an honour to be featured in the same issue along with some of the prominent personalities in various spheres from Chennai such as Gigyasa Giri and Mallika Badrinath!
The instant flashbacks I get when I think of Churma Ladoos is – firewood, smoke filled kitchen and a large black iron kadai (wok). My grandma sitting on a small wooden stool, slow roasting the coarse whole wheat flour with a ladle in one hand, adding dollops of fresh homemade cow’s ghee from a copper burni (pot) placed beside her and a funnel in another hand to fan the hearth.
This if the ‘power of food’ – to bring back good memories.
It has been years I made Churma Ladoos the authentic way, but for the recipe submission to the magazine….can’t imagine deep frying the Baatis in Ghee. I did roll the Ladoos the traditional way for the magazine and also made a slightly lighter version for Lite Bite by adding millet and baking the Baatis instead of deep frying the same in ghee.
The later version (with Millet) did compromise on taste slightly as compared to the original recipe but not on health for sure.
You can check the recipe for traditional Churma Ladoos on my other blog here.
1. Pearl Millet Churma Ladoos
(makes about 20 small laddos)
- 1 cup Pearl Millet or Bajra flour
- 1 cup wheat flour
- 11/4 cups grated jaggery
- 3/4 th cup warm milk
- 3 tbsp Ghee
- 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom powder
Take a large bowl, add Pearl millet flour (Bajra), whole wheat flour and 1 tbsp. ghee in it. Rub the mixture with fingers to form crumbles.
Add warm milk and knead stiff dough.
Pinch small balls of dough and roll into cylindrical shape ‘Baatis’ and press it slightly to make impressions of your fingers.
Bake these buns in a pre heated oven at 220°C for 15 minutes or till they turn golden brown in colour. I baked mine in a convection and it took longer than 20 minutes for the buns to turn golden in colour.
Cool the buns slightly and crumble them into small pieces.
Grind the broken ‘Baatis’ into fine powder in a blender.
Grate jaggery and chop nuts of your choice.
If your mixture is very fine you can continue making the Laddos or else sieve the mixture and grind the larger pieces again into fine powder or ‘Churma’.
Churma is a sweet recipe in itself, you can serve the same with more chopped nuts sprinkled over it.
Add jaggery, nuts, cardamom powder, ghee to the still warm coarse powder of Millet or Churma and mix well. Sprinkle a few drops of water to make small balls from the Churma.
Shelf life of these Millet Ladoos is slightly less than the traditional deep fried Ladoos.
2. Sugar Free Date Rolls
Sweets with dried fruits and nuts is one of my favorites during festive seasons. At times when all milk based sweets look and taste similar, it feels good to munch upon something more natural and healthy. These sweets takes does not take much time to cook and can be prepared in the last minute of festive rush hours.
(make 20 small rolls)
- 20 black dates
- 2 tbsp. ghee
- 10-12 almonds
- 10-12 Pistachios
- 2 tbsp Poppy seeds or desiccated coconut
Method; De-seed all the dates and finely chop into small pieces. Chop almonds and Pistachios.
Heat ghee in a non-stick pan and add chopped dates in it. Cook for about 6-7 minutes until the dates turn into soft lump.
Remove the pan from heat and add chopped nuts and mix well. Divide the soft dough into 7-8 small portions and shape them into rolls.
Spread the poppy seeds or desiccated coconut in a flat plate and coat each date roll with it. Refrigerate all the rolls for a few hours before serving.
Refrigerate these rolls for longer shelf life.
You can add dried fruits and nuts of your choice to make these rolls.
- Millet Churma Ladoos have shorter shelf life than the traditional Ladoos, as these are not deep fried and a few drops of water is used to make them.
- Replace Finger Millet or Ragi with pearl millet and make another healthier version of Churma Ladoos.
- Make sure that the nuts are very finely chopped to make the Ladoos. You can blend the nuts to make coarse powder and use. This will make it easy to roll the churma into Ladoos.
Here is wishing all the readers a very happy and safe Diwali!