Whenever people ask me to describe a laddu, I always tell them to think of it as a ball of sweet goodness. They're made by firmly molding the ingredients into a ball using the palms of your hand. Usually the fat of choice is ghee and a flavored sugar syrup is used to sweeten the ingredients, but this can vary greatly depending on the type of laddu being made.
Chickpea flour laddus (also known as besan laddus) are made by cooking chickpea flour with sugar and ghee. Green cardamom is usually added for flavoring, and the texture is creamy and soft. —Nik Sharma
In a large non-stick wok/kadai over medium-low heat, melt the ghee.
Add the chickpea flour and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until the color changes to golden brown. At this stage, you will smell the chickpea flour as it releases its aroma.
Stir in the ground cardamom and cook for 40 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from stove and transfer the mixture to a cool mixing bowl. Leave to cool to room temperature.
Once the mixture has cooled, add the sugar and mix well. Divide the mixture into 12 equal parts. Shape the laddus using the palms of your hands to roll them into 1 inch-diameter balls by pressing the mixture firmly together. Sometimes, if I find that the laddus are not sticking together, I'll add a little more melted ghee (around 1 to 2 tablespoons) to the mixture to help bind the ingredients.
Nik Sharma is a molecular biologist turned cookbook author and food photographer who writes a monthly column for Serious Eats and the San Francisco Chronicle and is a contributor to the New York Times. His first cookbook, Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food, was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation award and an International Association of Culinary Professionals award. Nik resides in Los Angeles, California and writes the award-winning blog, A Brown Table. Nik's new book, The Flavor Equation will be released in October 2020.