Fermented lentil fritters or dumplings – street food from Delhi and Lahore. Delicately spiced liberally covered with grated mooli, spicy mint chutney, sweet tamarind chutney, and enjoyed street side in a small bowl made of leaves. Whether you call them ‘Ram ladoo’ as they are called in Delhi or ‘Peethi ladoo‘ as they are called in Lahore. These traditional street food items seem to be disappearing as the trend for fusion food grows instead.
Ram Ladoo or Lahori Ladoo peethi?
Without going into detailed history, there’s a logical explanation to this. Delhi has a huge population of immigrants that came from Pakistan during partition. They set up restaurants and eating places in Delhi, making their own food. The Lahori ladoo peethi became Ram ladoo in Delhi. It is the only place in India where this dish is made, as far as I know. You get moong daal ladoo (or fritters) everywhere in India, but these are slightly different. They are soft on the inside, with a crunchy crust. Since they sit out with the street vendor, they tend to be a little dry. But, the juices from the mooli piled on top, and the liquid from the mint chutney soak into the ladoos. These juices not only soften them, but flavour them as well.
Why are these ladoos not sweet?
Street food from Delhi and Lahore has a lot of lip-smacking spicy chaat items. It also has a lot of sweet stuff to extinguish fires caused by the spicy chaats. Ladoos or Laddu are generally sweet. However, these are unique ones. They are plain when eaten on their own. Seriously, not much to taste until you add the condiments. This dish is made by the combination of flavours. The condiments are just as important as the ladoos. The plain and dry balls, soaked in juices from the mooli and chutney would be dull without the crunchy grated mooli. The only element of sweetness is from the tamarind chutney.
Can Ram Ladoos be made without frying?
I have tried baking them, but they dry out. Pan frying doesn’t seem to work either. They lose their shape, density and texture. Baking them in muffin pans, wasn’t a success. They were pretty good in a small electric donut maker, albeit they dried out a fair bit. If you don’t mind them shaped like a waffle, that was another option that worked. The best alternative is frying them in an aebeleskiver (Danish pancake) pan or appe pan. I don’t have an air fryer, so if you try that, please leave me a comment.
What is a mooli?
It is a type of white radish, also known as a diakon. For this recipe, the crunchier the mooli, the better. The thin ones usually have more flavour than the thicker ones. They must not be soft. The fresh ones usually have a fair bit of juice in them, which is paramount in this recipe. The version of mooli we get in the western countries, are usually quite big but they don’t have the strong taste.
Can I freeze Ram ladoo or Lahori ladoo peethi?
Yes, they freeze quite well. Store in freezer bags for upto 2 months without a problem. Defrost and reheat in oven for 10 minutes.
How to make Ram ladoo or Lahori ladoo peethi?
The process to make them is simple but time consuming. Since we are relying on natural fermentation process, it takes time. Aerating the batter will ensure they are fluffy and soft in the centre. They do grow in size as they are fried but it needs aerating.
How to aerate the batter without using eggs?
You have to aerate – whipping up air into the batter so it is light and fluffy. Normally, if it is a floured batter you could use a large balloon whisk. But, a balloon whisk will not work with the lentils. The lentils are too heavy for the balloon whisk. I have a couple of bent whisks to prove that. I found a wooden spoon works best for me. I tilt the bowl and using some shoulder strength, whip up the batter. It gets smoother as it aerates.
I should have taken a final picture for when the batter was ready, but got distracted. After aerating it, let it rest for a couple of hours in a warm place. Whip it up again and it will be quite light and fluffy. So whip, rest and whip until it’s ready to be fried.
Which oil should I use for frying?
Any oil with high smoking point and without fragrance. Preferably vegetable, sunflower or canola oil. Use a fresh batch when deep frying these. Once finished with the frying, let the pan cool. Strain the oil and store in a glass jar. Re-use the oil as required and this is better explained by this article in The Guardian.
Ram Ladoo or Lahori Ladoo PeethiCourse: SnacksCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Medium
overnightmin 4 hrs
Street food from Delhi and Lahore
1 cup yellow moong dal
1/2 cup chana dal
1/2 cup urad dal
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp green chilli paste
1/4 tsp asafoetida
salt to taste
juice from the grated mooli (if possible)
- For putting it all together
grated mooli, combined with fresh chopped coriander and mint
spicy mint chutney
sweet tamarind chutney
Oil for frying
- Combine all the lentils and soak overnight or for at least 4 hours.
- Drain the water. Rinse off the excess starch. Blitz to a paste – see notes below.
- Aerate the batter. Set aside for at least two hours. Aerate again.
- Heat oil for frying. Add the spices and salt into the batter and combine well. Do not add salt until ready to fry.
- Fry one ladoo to test the seasoning and texture. If the ladoo sinks, it needs aerating. It should fluff up. Add salt after testing.
- Drop them into the hot oil using a scoop or by hand. Fry the ladoos on medium heat. Do not overcrowd the fryer. Do not brown them. Set aside and let them cool.
- Heat oil and this time fry them on high heat. You can fry more in the pan this time. Fry till golden and crispy. Drain on a lined wire rack and serve with the accompaniments.
- Need to avoid using water to make the paste. However, if you have to use water, make sure it is ice cold and in small quantity.
- To make them extra special – use the reserved water from the mooli to make the paste in place of water. It adds an amazing taste.