When we were kids, my sister and I went through bowlfuls of ragi (nachni or finger millet) porridge. We were part of that strange segment of children that ate anything that was put in front of them, even a non-colourful, non-chocolate thing like ragi, and loved it. Packed with all sorts of nutrients, ragi is now found in breads, biscuits and laddoos, if you’re me.
Stay with me, I know these sound like they’re going to taste like vitamin supplements. They don’t. Because it’s the month of Diwali, and everything has ghee. Lots and lots of ghee. Say hello to my new favourite Diwali mithai!
They are wholesome, filling and just indulgent enough to remind you they’re here for the festive season. They’ve got oats and ground almonds and jaggery to sweeten, which means no refined sugar. #adulting
The recipe was something my Mom found skimming the newspaper one day. She gave it a shot and suggested I try it but to add cashews or almonds to it. Stroke of genius, really. The almonds had a bit more indulgence, and add to the overall roasted, nutty flavour. I felt in hindsight, the ghee can be reduced just a bit to compensate for the natural almond oil that will get released. You can also play around with the quantity of jaggery to suit your tastebuds. More jaggery will mean a thicker, drier mixture which becomes easier to roll. Less jaggery creates a looser mixture, which needs to be chilled before it can be rolled. I will note these alternatives and suggestions in the recipe below. Either way, they’re going to taste great. This is basically a quicker, healthier way to besan laddoos 😀
Ragi flour is available easily at grocers and supermarkets and I’d recommend using powdered jaggery for convenience. It is a good idea to blitz the jaggery if there are any large chunks in it. Roasting the entire mixture takes some wrist work, but it’s not hard and certainly doesn’t take long at all. As far as mithais go, this is going to be one of the easy ones 🙂
I’m not sure how to describe the flavour of ragi exactly, but the laddoos have the perfect blend of the nuttiness that whole grain flours bring with them, the molasses-y taste of jaggery and ghee, glorious ghee. Make these!
- ½ cup oats
- ¼ cup whole almonds
- 1 cup ragi flour
- 6 to 8 tbsps ghee*
- ½ cup jaggery*
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- Flaked almonds, for garnish
- Grind the oats till you have a fine, flour-like mixture. Transfer to a non-stick pan and set aside.
- Grind the almonds till they resemble almond meal, a few small pieces are ok. Add to the oats and dry-roast both together for a couple of minutes until very lightly browned and aromatic. Set aside to cool.
- In a sturdy wok (I use my aluminium kadhai), heat the ghee on low, ensuring it doesn't start smoking or boiling. Please read the notes for the ghee and jaggery quantity options.
- Add the ragi flour and roast on low heat with the ghee for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture darkens and gives off a nutty aroma. It will be fairly liquid-y and will resemble coarse tar at this stage, don't panic 🙂
- Add the almonds and oats mixture and roast for about another 5 minutes stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken a little but will still be runny. Turn off the heat, transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Some of the ghee might rise to the surface. Stir occasionally and as it cools, the mixture will thicken automatically.
- When it is completely cool, add the jaggery and mix well. The mixture will now be much firmer. Taste and add more jaggery if needed. Mix in the cardamom powder. At this stage, you could roll the laddoos, or if the ghee is making the mixture too soft, simply chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will also depend on how hot your kitchen is.
- Roll the laddoos in your palms and for a rounder shape, I prefer tossing each laddoo around in just one palm. Press a piece of flaked almond into the top and store the prepared laddoos in the fridge. They taste best on day two, once the flavours have a chance to settle. Leave at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. Have a great Diwali!
*While rolling the mixture, feel free to add more jaggery, up to 1 cup. The more you add, the thicker the mixture will be, so compensate with ghee if required.
*If the jaggery has some larger chunks, blitz it in the blender for a few seconds.