Rava Oondas (Semolina ladoos)

Rava Oondas are a type of Indian sweet made with coarse semolina flour, shredded coconut, and lots of ghee. They are more commonly called rava ladoos in the rest of India, but in Coorg we call them oondas, meaning “rounds”. Rava, as an ingredient in Indian cooking, more commonly refers to semolina flour.

I have a memory of watching my mum make these for a picnic when I was about 10 or 11 years old. She had the mixture on a large stainless steel plate, which she also used to knead her chapati dough, and swiftly rolled oonda after oonda. This memory came to me a few days ago and I just couldn’t get through the weekend without attempting to make them!

Because of the 10-hr time difference between us, I couldn’t call her to ask for her recipe. So I got on Pinterest and read through a handful of recipes. Some called for finely ground sugar and others for sugar syrup. Some had a larger coconut to rava ratio, and others had no coconut at all. I’ve had rava laddoos that were hard, dry, and way too sugary, so I stayed away from the sweeter, drier recipes. My memories of this simple dessert jogged up flavors of coconut, cardamom, and nutty rava, with just a hint of sweet. I instinctively knew I wanted a softer, moister ladoo to suit my taste. So I did what I do best, adapted a bunch of recipes to come up with a combination that worked for me. My adaptations don’t always work, but through years of trial and error, I’m able to adapt most recipes with a pretty flavorful outcome. And this adaption was just perfect! I’ll have to compare it with my grandmother’s recipe, which my mum insists is simply irresistible - I don’t doubt that for a moment!

 

Rava Oondas

 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups rava (coarse semolina flour) 
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp cashews (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 cardamom pods (smashed)
  • A pinch of saffron strands
  • ¼ cup milk (warmed)
  •  4 tbsp ghee

Method

  1. Combine the water, sugar, cardamom and saffron in a small pot and allow to simmer until the solution has reduced by half.
  2. Toast the rava in a stainless steel pan until it releases a nutty aroma and turns a light golden color. Set aside in a bowl.
  3. In the same pan, toast the coconut until it turns a light golden color and place in the same bowl as the rava.
  4. Now take 1 tbsp of ghee in the pan and roast the raisins and cashews until the raisins puff up and cashews turn a light golden color. Add to the same bowl as the coconut and rava.
  5. Mix the remaining ghee with the rava and coconut mixture, adding the sugar solution once it has cooled down.
  6. Add half the milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes. If the mixture is still dry add the rest of the milk. The mixture should stick together well.
  7. Taking about a tablespoon of the rava mixture at a time and roll it into balls in the center of your palms. Let the rava oondas sit on a plate and cover with a light kitchen towel until they have cooled down completely.
  8. Once cooled, you can store the rava oondas in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
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Ayurvedic Lesson

  • Semolina is a coarse flour derived from wheat. Wheat is very nourishing for all the doshas, and it’s natural sweetness helps to ground Vata and Pitta.

  • Because this recipe uses a lot of milk, coconut, and sugar, it is best avoided if your Kapha dosha is aggravated.