If there were an equivalent to a cookie in India, it would be the ladoo — spherical sweet treats loved by all, kids and adults, rich or poor. They often are distributed in temples as sacred offerings and were known to be a particular favorite of Ganesh, the god of good fortune and remover of obstacles. (Yes, only in India do our gods have food preferences.) Any happy occasion is the perfect excuse to make and distribute ladoos to friends. Like most other Indian sweets, there are dozens of varieties made with a combination of nuts, milk, sugar, lentils, ghee and more ghee! Here I offer you a very simple ladoo to make for your loved ones this week to celebrate St. Valentine. It is made and sweetened with dates and pistachios, scented with cardamom and brightened with a lemony bite from the coriander seeds. These ladoos will keep for weeks in your refrigerator, too.
makes ~16 ladoos
4 tablespoons bourbon
½ cup grated coconut
½ cup pistachios
Generous pinch of ground cardamom
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
Pinch of chili powder
Soak the dates in bourbon for 2-3 hours.
In a food processor, chop the dates, coconut, pistachios, cardamom and salt and add any bourbon that may be left from the soaking.
Heat up the ghee until just shy of smoking and add the coriander seeds. Within 2-3 seconds, pull the ghee off the heat and add the chili powder. Pour into the ladoo mix. Mix with your fingertips to evenly distribute the spices. Roll into 1-inch balls.
ideas / variations
Fresh coconut is always best, but if not available use frozen or dry grated coconut.
Replace the bourbon with rum, whiskey or orange juice.
Cardamom can be replaced with cinnamon or nutmeg.
Replace the ghee with butter or coconut oil.