Fun,frolic and food and that is what Durga Puja is all about in Odisha and the eastern part of the country.Born and brought up as an Odiya and marrying an Odiya settled in Bengal the puja festivities and food is an integral part of our lives.
But away from home,your native land makes you crave for the festive vibrant air, the colours, the food fiesta, the laughter and adda sessions with friends and cousins, the never ending pandal hopping, the chanting of the mantras and the beat of the drums from the pandals.How much I yearn for those autumn skies filled with the smell of an eclectic mix of camphor and smoke from the pandals and the Shiuli ( Night jasmine) flower.
A overwhelming rush of memories and associations....and here in Goa am trying to create a home away from home for my children so that they also value our traditions,customs and culture.Trying to recreate the festive air at home by preparing some nostalgia filled Puja special dishes .The glitz and charm of Durga Puja still holds strong ..miles away from home.
The Malai Ladoo is an absolutely easy, quick and extremely tasty sweet recipe.I have tweaked it with some gulkand and anjeer(figs) stuffing which gave a nice rosy crunch in the middle and took the recipe to a different level.The main ingredient is Chenna or Paneer or Cottage Cheese.
You require (for 15-16 medium sized laddoos)
2 C Chenna / Paneer
1 C Condensed Milk
1 tbsp corn flour
1/2 tsp elaichi powder/ cardamom powder
2 tbsp ground Sugar ( If you like it Sweet)(optional)
5-6 Dry figs chopped
2 tbsp Gulkand
5-6 Almonds toasted and slivered
Few strands of saffron dipped in warm milk
- Mash the Chenna Or paneer with hand or alternately whisk it in a mixer.
- Add the Chenna,condensed milk,and cornflour in a wok or pan in low heat and stir.Keep stirring till it dries up and thickens,approximately for 10 mins.Keep on stirring continuously as the mixture is prone to get burnt.
- Switch off the flame and add the cardamom powder and leave it to cool.
- Prepare the stuffing by mixing the gulkand and chopped anjeer or figs.
- Shape the laddoos when the mixture is cool enough to handle.( do not let it cool too much as the mixture thickens )
- Scoop out a tbsp of the paneer mix and shape it into a ball ,make a dent in the middle for the stuffing with your thumb and fill 1/2 a tsp of the stuffing and shape it back into a ball covering the stuffing uniformly.
- Garnish with saffron strands or slivered ,toasted almonds.
A very Happy Durga Puja to you all!