Ram Laddoo

The other day, I came across an article about Ram Laddoo, and it got me intrigued. I initially thought it would be a kind of laddoo, a sweet dish, but it turned out to be something totally different. Ram Laddoo, the article told me, is a popular snack sold on the streets of Old Delhi, a savoury dish. It is something that reminds Delhiites of the times gone by. Apparently, Ram Laddoos, apart from being a gastronome’s delight, are a delight to the eyes, too. A cart filled with these laddoos is a thing any photographer would be tempted to capture.

I have visited Delhi a couple of times, but have never seen this particular dish on the roads. I realised, all over again, that I haven’t explored Delhi – particularly Old Delhi, with the huge variety of foods that it has to offer – enough. I have promised myself to straighten that out as soon as I can. Immediately, though, I decided to make the ram laddoo at home, using the recipe provided. It turned out super yummy!

For the uninitiated, Ram Laddoo is a chaat made with fried balls of lentil, served with a tangy green chutney, garnished with radish and onion. A cousin of the Gujarati Dalwada, if you may call it that. When I went on to read more about the laddoo on the internet, I found that they can be made in three different ways – a mixture of chana dal and moong dal, only chana dal, or only moong dal. I decided to go the ‘only chana dal’ way. Some other time, maybe, I will try it out the other two ways. I made the green chutney to go with the laddoos in the typical North Indian manner, but I also added a dollop of sweet-and-sour tamarind chutney to them. I skipped the radish garnish altogether, and used only onions.

Ram Laddoo

Here is how I made it..

Ingredients (yields about 30 small laddoos):

For the laddoos:

1 small glass of chana dal, soaked overnight

Salt, to taste

Red chilli powder, to taste

For the spicy green chutney:

A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Salt, to taste

A fistful of fresh mint leaves, chopped

5-6 green chillies, chopped

A 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled

Juice of 1 lemon

1 small onion, chopped

5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled

For the garnish:

Home-made sweet-and-sour imli chutney (Refer to this post to know how to make it)

Finely chopped onions

Method:

For the laddoos:

1. Drain out the excess water from the chana dal that has been soaked overnight, if any.

2. Grind the chana dal coarsely in a mixer with salt and red chilli powder to taste, without adding any extra water. Ensure that you grind the dal coarsely and not into a smooth paste. A smooth paste does not usually give you easy-to-make laddoos.

3. Heat oil in a pan.

4. Make small balls out of the chana dal paste and deep fry them, a few at a time. Do this on a low flame, ensuring that the laddoos are well-cooked from the inside, and are golden brown on the outside. Keep these laddoos aside.

For the spicy green chutney:

1. Take all the ingredients except the lemon juice in a mixer jar. Add a little water.

2. Grind everything together into a fine, liquid chutney.

3. Add the lemon juice to the ready chutney. Mix well.

4. Check for seasonings. Add anything that might be required. Keep aside.

For the assembling:

1. Take a few of the laddoos in a small plate. Flatten them a little.

2. Add a dollop of the spicy green chutney and one of the sweet-and-sour tamarind chutney over them.

3. Sprinkle some finely chopped onions over them.

4. Make all the laddoos the same way.

The laddoos made this way come out crisp and lovely. They retain their crispiness even after they cool down. There is, thus, no need to serve this dish while the laddoos are piping hot. Hot or cold, this chaat is crunchy and tasty. πŸ™‚

Throughout this entire exercise, one question that was burning bright in my mind was – Why is the Ram Laddoo called so? I could not find any explanation for it on the internet, and I do not know of any other Delhi veteran who could sate my curiosity. The Delhi Walla offered one possibility –

Nobody knows how the deep fried balls of moong dal came to be known as Ram laddoo. It might have followed the Hindu belief that something with no name can always be attributed to Ram, one of the most venerated gods. Strangely, two completely different food items are labelled Ram laddoo in Delhi. While one is these crusty daal dumplings, the other is a sweet-sour teeny-weeny ball of tamarind pulp enmeshed with pomegranate seeds.

Interesting, right?

And, ‘balls of tamarind pulp enmeshed with pomegranate seeds’, also called Ram Laddoo? I have got to hunt that down.

People, if you have any interesting stories to tell about either version of the Ram Laddoo, I am all ears! Suggestions about how the name came about are also most welcome!

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25 thoughts on “Ram Laddoo

  1. Ram laddoo is very common all over delhi, summer or winter. In fact I realised that it is called Ram Laddoo after a visit to Old Delhi, where it is said to have originated. As you said, it is a small ball of fried moong dal. It is served with a generous topping of green chutney and grated radish. No onions. Have seen it served this way in various parts of delhi – and not any other way.

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  2. It is yummy indeed the chutney they serve in rajouri market it drool worthy come next time and try it for sure and in rajouri wale ram ladoo they also give tempered pickled chillies along with the chutney.

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  3. How did you come across Ram laddoo now? It’s a uniquely winter dish in the north. This Jan, in Amritsar, I came across a slightly larger version of this called Amritsar laddoo – totally melt in the mouth!

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