Thursday, March 11
If there's one thing I've found in my travels, every culture has its own unique love affair with sugar. Unlike the Western butter+sugar+flour formula, India expresses its affection with jaggery, nuts, seeds and milk.
In Maharashtrian cooking, jaggery is used in just about everything, savory or sweet. And once again, a sucker for packaging, I couldn't resist the heart-shaped hunks of it available in the market.
In a dim corner stall of the market, two gents were bagging up what looked like golf-sized birdseed balls. I asked what they were packaging and a third gent appeared and led me around the corner, down a dark narrow corridor to two small rooms. The square mold in the foreground is a mixture of cashews, jaggery and sesame seeds that have been dumped from the pan (the one resting on the spare tire), into the mold and rolled flat to cool before cutting.
**Fortunately, these two were so eager to have their photo taken, they posed patiently while I tried to figure out how to capture them in the flourescent-tinged near dark.
The various types of jaggery are weighed in proportion, depending on the type of laddu being made.
This gent was sifting through huge sacks of sesame seeds.
These two spend their day forming each perfectly round, cardamom-scented ball of sesame seeds and jaggery by hand. They were unbelievably fast!
I went in search of my friends to come join in the discovery and we were all generously treated to these still-warm, caramel-y, chewy, nutty, cardamom-scented samplings of laddu. It's just this kind of experience I live for in my travels!
Posted by Katie Christ at 4:26 PM