Rava laddoos: Of Birthday parties, laddoos and small “assistants”

The year is 1975. The place – Vizag. The occasion – the first birthday of the twin ‘babies’ of the family. My uncle and aunt have invited the whole colony and some 200 people are expected to turn up. The house has been busy for several days with various aunts, not to mention us small fry pitching in to “help” with making loads of goodies for the party.More about this “help” later on!
Birthday parties were not so common in Indian homes back then and catered parties were undreamt of! Soft drinks (luxuries) bottles arrived and were stored in large drums full of ice – serious depredations happened on our particular favourite – a sickly sweet mango concoction imaginatively named “Mangola”! Said depredations were quickly brought to a close by my uncle discovering some 30 empty bottles neatly hidden in the bushes!
My aunts were busy making “boondi laddoos” for a crowd of 200, not counting family – another 30 or so staying in the house. My brother Arvind was roped in to help them count the laddoos – haha! The aunts parked themselves on the floor next to the dining table and the laddoos were made and handed over to Arvind who was supposed to lay them out in neat rows on the white table cloth and count them. About an hour later, my aunt asked him to count and tell them how many were there – by her reckoning, there should have been about a 100.
Arvind counted the rows and the columns many times up and down and down and up and sideways but the number stayed firm – a grand total of THIRTEEN! Summary dismissal happened – now we KNOW how laid-off employees feel on getting the little pink slip – except that they don’t have a stomach full of laddoos to console them!
Boondi laddoos are a time consuming affair but rava laddoos can be dished up with the most basic cookery skills! And i assure you, these will disappear just as fast!
Rava laddoos
Rava(semolina) – 1.5 cups
Powdered sugar – 3/4 cup
Cardamoms- powdered – 3
Pacha karpooram (edible camphor) – 1 teensy weensy bit – about the size of a mustard seed
Saffron – few strands dissolved in 2 tbsp of warm milk
Ghee – 1/4 cup
Cashew nuts – 2 tbsp
Almonds – 2 tbsp
Raisins – 2 tbsp
Milk – 3 tbsp
Heat the ghee in a pan and add the cashews, almonds and raisins. Stir till the raisins puff up and the cashew are golden. Remove from the ghee and set aside. Add the rava and stir for 7-8 minutes till it’s golden. Add the sugar and stir for 3-4 minutes more. Add the nuts and raisins, milk and saffron milk and mix well. Switch off – it should be the consistency of a heavy sludge – easier to shape. Let cool a bit till you can handle it. Dip your palms in cold milk and shape the mxture into balls.
Set aside for about an hour to dry before storing in a tin. Do NOT eat while shaping! Count. Whaaaatt??? Only 3??? What happened to the other 15???