The windows of my grandma’s kitchen directly opened into the cemented aangan(backyard) next to which was a huge vegetable patch. Lying just below the window there used to be a heavy, long and wide takhat (wooden bench) one side of which was the resting place for all the pickles and papad she made throughout the season while the cushioned part of was where she sat and chopped vegetables for dinner.
When she popped ramadan(amaranth) seeds for making the ladoos, we climbed over the bench and hung over the kitchen window to witness the process. The amaranth seeds would fly all over the stove off the hot kadai, they made a crackling sound and she held a large brass dish to cover the kadai every now and then.Next, she melted the amber colored soft desi gud(jaggery) in the kadai and it bubbled and bubbled before being mixed with the popped amaranth seeds. At that, time I didn’t have a clue or two about culinary terms, but the drama presented by these simple & rustic ingredients was one of the most delightful and stimulating sights in the kitchen.
It will take a few batches to decide the right amount of heat needed to pop the amaranth seeds without burning them. You can pop a day in advance and keep ready for the day you want to make ladoos. These ladoos can be stored for 3 weeks at room temperature, they are so nutritious and one of my favorite ways is to crumble them in a bowl of warm milk and eat,so comforting 🙂 You can add few crushed nuts to these like peanuts or almonds or dried fruit like raisins to these, but I keep them simple and let the taste of the grain shine.
Ingredients (makes 10-12 ladoos)
- 1 cup ramdana/rajgira (amaranth seeds)
- 1 cup jaggery (about 200 gms), crumbled
- 2 tsp softened ghee (or substitute with coconut oil for vegan)
- 2-3 tbsp water
Clean the amaranth seeds by spreading them on a wide dish and picking out the black ones, tiny stones etc.
Heat up a heavy bottomed kadai or a deep pot (you can use dutch oven) to high. Once pot is really hot, add a pinch of amaranth seeds to test. If they start popping immediately without a time lag, the pot is ready else wait a little more to get it hop. Please check this video link, it explains rightly how to pop amaranth seeds.
Add 1/2 tbsp of amaranth at a time to the hot pot, cover the pot and continously shake the pot itself so that the seeds don’t burn. When popped, the seeds immediately turn whitish in color.
Sieve the puffed seeds from the pot using a colander to separate the un popped seeds from the popped ones. You can grind the un popped seeds and make a flour and add to roti flour.
Pop all the seeds this week and transfer to a large. In the same kadai add ghee along with jaggery and water. Let the jaggery melt on low medium heat for a bit. Slowly you will see the syrup will start bubbling. At that time, turn off the flame and strain the melted jaggery in the same bowl as the popped amaranth seeds. Add (ghee sautéed) nuts or raisins at this stage if using. Using a wooden spoon, quickly mix such that all the seeds are coated in jaggery syrup.
Wet your hands and quickly bind to make lemon size ladoos while the mixture is still hot. Let cool down on a plate. Serve or store in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.