Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lassan na ladva - Garlic ladoos

This is a very old recipe that probably comes from the time when my ancestors lived in villages in Gujarat. It is a very rustic and simple dish that is generally made during winter - when it is cold, because all ingredients are 'hot' for the body. These laddoos are generally eaten with curd and baingan bharta (eggplant).
The lasan/garlic for this dish is not the fully grown garlic that we get in the market. It requires the green shoots of young, freshly grown garlic. Typically, I have not found these ever in a grocery store, so it is best to grow it yourself. Just get some soil in a pot and bury in a few pods of garlic. Give it some water and sunlight and in a few weeks green shoots will sprout out of these pods. Once these shoots are about 10-12 inches tall, they along with the pod underground can be used to make these laddoos.
The laddoos are made using bajra flour. (Bajra = pearl millet, kambu in tamil)
First 'bajra na rotlas' - bajra flat bread /. chappatis are made.

1 cup Bajra flour
Salt to taste
Warm water
Green garlic 5-6 shoots

Mix salt and Bajra flour. Add water, a little at a time and kneed into firm dough. The dough should be soft enough to be pressed into a roti with your hand but firm enough to hold its shape.
Heat a pan.
Take a round ball of the dough and clap it into a flat roti using the palm of your hands. Apply a little water over the roti as you clap it flat to ensure that it does not crack. The roti will be a thick as a naan or a pita bread.
Cook it in the pan over a low flame. Once a side is cooked, turn it over, apply some ghee, cook the other side and flip over to cook a little more.

Let the rotlas cool down a bit. Once they are cool enough to handle crumble them (with hand or in a food processor). Note: make sure the crumbles are small but not powdery.

Chop the green lasan/garlic into fine pieces. Add them to the crumbled rotlas. Add ghee to this mixture - enough to make the mixture soft and such that it can hold together. Roll this mixture into a ball.

Serve the laddoos with curd, roasted papad or baingan bharta in winter.

Contributed by Makhani Family.
Food has always been an integral part of my childhood. Every ocassion in my house was associated with a special dish, so much so, that some dishes could be made only on those certain days. Of course this meant that I was spoilt and pampered, such that I would eat a particular dish only if it was made my mom or granny or that one person known for making it a particular way. Experimenting was unheard of and the men in my family would make a criticizing comment even if one ingredient in the dish changed. All this gave way when I came to the US. Here cooking was putting things together and dicovering for myself which combinations tasted decent and which did not. But now, five years later, I still yearn for that special combination of ingredients that can only produce that one given taste, the one taste that can trigger a remote memory from childhood and that I can associate with a certain ocassion, like 'mag na bhajiya' and 'seero' during rains, or 'lassan na ladva' in december.
When remeniscing about these tastes with friends, I realized that all of us have that craving of mom's food that never goes away, no matter how far or how grown up we are. Being away from home and living in nuclear families where fast food and restaurants are a way of life, I wonder how many of these traditional family recipes will disappear with no one to remember or record them. This is a small attempt to try and capture those recipes that are handed down from generations and that can only be found in 'mom's kitchen'.