July 23, 2012

Maavu Laddu (Pottu Kadalai Laddu)

   Maavu laddu is a sweet delicacy mostly popular with the people of southern Tamil Nadu. It is made from Pottu kadalai or Pori Kadalai which is the south Indian name for split gram dal, which in turn is chutney dal. Or more specifically the gram dal used to make coconut chutney. Pottu kadalai being a very rich source of protein, these laddus are usually made in many households with little children. It is called Maavu laddu, since all the ingredients are in powdered form ('Maavu' in Tamil means powder) and 'laddu' is any sweet in the form of a sphere.I recently came to know that these laddus can also be made from Pasi paruppu or whole moong dal and are called Pasi paruppu laddus. I haven't tried making them with moong dal yet, but I may give that a shot in future. I have seen these maavu laddus in quite a few sweet shops selling traditional sweets, but never bothered to buy them or even taste them as they never appealed to me. I had my first taste of this laddu after my marriage at my in-laws home. My co-sister makes these very often for her kids and I found the taste of the laddus to my liking, albeit I always felt there was something missing in the laddu. I eventually got to make these laddus myself when I found a nice way to get my son to eat ghee...apparently, he doesn't enjoy the taste of ghee with his rice and curry :) And ghee (clarified butter) being essential for a child's growth, these laddus are very handy. Its another story that a calorie conscious me can never eat these laddus. But I really enjoy making them. And what I found was missing in my co-sister's laddus was the fact that she always made these laddus the traditional way. That is, just grinding the pottu kadalai with the sugar, adding ghee and making laddus. She never roasted the split gram dal. Well, I found that roasting the dal, cooling and then grinding it makes a lot of difference in the taste of these laddus. You should try doing the same. Ahem, I think I'll go and take a dig at just one laddu from my kitchen.

Maavu Laddu


Split gram dal (Pottu Kadalai) - 1 and 1/2 tea cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Ghee - 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup (depending on how rich you want it)
Cardamom - few grains or 1 pod ( as per individual taste)
Cashew nuts - 1 tsp or 1 tbsp (finely broken)
Raisins - (optional)


1) First you need to make a trip to the Indian store to buy 'Chana Dalia', as that's the name under which pottu kadalai/ split gram dal is sold in the Patel store. Next, heat a kadai or heavy bottomed saucepan on high. When it is hot enough, reduce flame to medium and quickly dry roast the gram dal till it is a slightly golden color. Stir continuously so as not to burn the dal. This should take few minutes. Most people usually just grind the gram dal along with sugar to make the laddus. As the raw smell disappears, you will find that this dry roasting really enhances the taste of the laddus. 
2) Transfer the dal to a plate and allow to cool completely. On cooling, grind it to a fine powder along with sugar. In case you use fine powdered sugar, like we do in the US, you don't have to grind it along with the dal. Mix the roasted gram flour and sugar in a large bowl and set aside.

Sugar mixed with powdered gram dal
3) Warm the 1/3 or 1/2 cup ghee in a microwave. Use a little of this ghee to stir fry the cashew and raisins, in case you desire to add them to the laddus. I usually don't add either as my little son does not like biting into them while eating his favorite laddu :) 
4) Powder the cardamom and add it to the gram flour mixture. Mix well. Now, pour the warmed ghee little by little into the mixture. Using a spoon or ladle, constantly stir the ghee into the mixture. Actually, using your hand would be better as you will know just when to stop adding any more ghee. The mixture should have just about enough ghee, so as to easily shape it into laddus. No problems if you use up all the ghee to make the laddus....just make sure you workout more in the gym afterwards ;)

Mixture after adding few tbsps of ghee

Mixture ready to make laddus after adding more ghee

This recipe will make approx. 25 - 27 small ladoos. Since the protein in the dal and the oodles of ghee added make this sweet a little heavy on the stomach, you may want to limit the quantity consumed by very small kids, say in the age group of 2-5 yrs. Agreed that they play a lot and burn all the calories, but it is better to be cautious :) Also, I have used a measuring cup to measure out the ghee, but you can add as much as your heart desires. Just know that it is the ghee which actually brings out the taste in this delectable sweet.

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