Ginger with a twist

Amrita Prasad
Thursday, 2 November 2017

A popular winter sweet dish in North India, Sonth (dry ginger) Laddoo is packed with health benefits. Delhi-based food blogger and home chef Sunita Sharma breaks it down for us.

Come winter and you start eating food that keeps you warm. Ginger is one such ingredient. It is often used in daily cooking and treated as a flavour in tea. However, have you ever imagined an entire dish made from ginger? Bitter right?

Well, there is a delicious variant of this bitter ingredient. Sonth Ke Laddoos (laddoos made from dry ginger powder) are packed with health benefits. It’s  a traditional winter sweet dish made in almost every household in North Indian cities and some parts of Bihar, and Jharkhand. The centuries-old recipe is handed down through generations and is also prepared as part of a ritual.

“There is a popular notion that a woman should be fed Sonth Ke Laddoo right after she delivers a child and hence mothers and mothers-in-law start making Sonth Ke Laddoo a few days in advance. Slighty bitter and having the overwhelming flavour of ginger mixed with dry fruits and jaggery, Sonth Ke Laddoo is a way to revisit one’s childood as we were fed these by our daadis and naanis,” says Sunita Sharma, the food blogger and home chef who tries to recreate the recipe like her grandmother did.

She  attempts to make it popular in other parts of the country for its taste and health benefits. “The laddoo has gond (mastic gum), desi ghee, jaggery and nuts which lend it a great taste and make it good to fight cold in winter,” she adds.

When asked about the dos and don’ts of making the laddoo, she suggests that while roasting the wheat flour, one should ensure that it is done on a low flame, otherwise it gets burnt and completely alters the taste. “If roasted too much, it will become difficult for you to roll it out into balls and chances are that they will break. Also remember to use a generous amount of ghee, the more ghee you add, the better your laddoos will taste,” Sharma adds.

Sharma shares the traditional recipe of Sonth Ke Laddoo

Ingredients
    Whole wheat flour (vivatta)...    1 cup
    Dry ginger powder (sonth)...    1/4 cup
    Jaggery...    3/4 cup
    Gond (natural gum)...    1/3 cup
    Dry coconut (grated)...    1/2 cup 
    Mixed nuts (almonds, cashews and pistachios)...    1/2 cup 
    Ghee...    1/3 cup

Method
    Heat one tbsp ghee in a heavy bottomed pan, add gond to it and roast it on a low flame until it puffs up and turns slightly brown in colour.
    Remove from pan and transfer to a plate.
    Add remaining ghee into the same pan. Roast vivatta (whole wheat flour) on low flame until a nice aroma from the flour is released and the ghee separates from the flour. Remove it into a wide bowl.
    Add ginger powder and roast for about a minute or until the powder releases a nice aroma. Remove into the same bowl with the whole wheat flour.
    Next dry roast grated dry coconut for a minute and transfer into the same pan.
    Add broken jaggery pieces into the same pan and heat it until melted. Once fully melted, filter it to remove any impurities. Pour the filtered jaggery syrup into the same bowl.
    Grind almonds and cashews into a coarse powder and chop the pistachios. Add all the nuts into the bowl.
    Crush roasted gond (mastic gum) into very small pieces. Add it to the bowl as well.
    Mix all the ingredients well. Wait until heat reduces so that you to touch and hold the mixture. Make lemon sized balls out of it.
    Store Sonth Ke Laddoo in air tight containers, as they stay good for about three to four months.

You can relish these laddoos every morning with milk or as an evening snack with Masala Chai.

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