Sweet Fruit Ladoos

These luscious ladoos never fail to delight. At Sunday feasts and programs, I've been asked for this recipe more often than almost any other. The outer layer of this sweetball is a mixture of poha (flat rice) and khoya (milk solids), which gives them a unique and wonderful consistency. Stuffed with a cooked fruit mixture, they're butter soft and delicious.

While ladoos with real homemade khoya are an extra treat, I seldom have the time to cook milk down into khoya. Instead, I find that ricotta cheese works beautifully for this prep. Don't replace the poha, however, as it's the secret to the ladoo's unique consistency. Also, be sure to use the thin poha rather than the thick.

For Filling:
Pulp of mashed banana and strawberry - 1/2 cup each
Khoya (Ricotta cheese) 2-1/4 cups
Sugar 9 tbsps
Vanilla essence 1 tsp

For Covering:
Thin poha (flattened rice) 3 cups
Sugar 2-1/4 cup
Ghee 4-5 tbps
Milk or cream 3 cups
Khoya (Ricotta cheese) 1-1/2 cups
Vanilla paste
A few drops of green and yellow colour

To make the filling:

Mix all ingredients and cook on medium low heat. Stir till the mixture thickens and leaves the side of the vessel. As it thickens, stir constantly to keep it from browning. Cool and set aside.

To make the coverings:

If not already prepared (flattened), clean, wash and mash the poha. If prepared, just melt the ghee in a vessel and add the poha. Stir for a few minutes until the poha is coated and darkens a shade or two. Add the milk, sugar and khoya or ricotta. Allow it to simmer till it is very thick and leaves the side of the vessel. Stir and turn constantly to keep it from browning - this mixture will brown and stick very easily. When cooked, remove from heat, separate into two bowls, and tint each a different color. Cool and divide into 45 balls.

Flatten each ball of the covering in your buttered palm, and place a bit of the filling in the center. Pull up the sides and completely enclose the filling, rounding the ladoo into a nice, smooth ball. Spread a bit of vanilla paste on top with a pastry brush.

Vanilla paste is available at Trader Joe's here in the Northwest. If unavailable near you, cook a little sugar down into a medium caramel, mix in a liberal amount of vanilla extract, and spread a bit on top of each ladoo. Offer to the Lord with devotion, and enjoy!


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