True story. In my sweet obsessed home, a laddu has always been something of a pariah. Desi, who can eat a whole carton of ice cream in one sitting, and half a box of kaju katli in another, will turn up his nose when I so much as talk about laddus. "They're so boring," is his explanation. That goes for rava laddus, besan laddus, and all other laddus in between. And that's a huge reason why you've never seen me share a vegan version of this uber-popular Indian sweet found at every Indian celebratory occasion, from Diwali to a birthday or a wedding.
Enter Jay. My six-year-old with his tastebuds still tuned highly to all things delicious and Indian, has been demanding laddus almost every day for the last week. Mom, do you know how to make laddus? was one of the first questions I got from him after we brought him home. Then, as we tried to catch up with all things healthy, the laddus went on the backburner. Until last weekend, when -- after the latest revival of the make-mom-make-a-laddu campaign -- I finally threw in the towel.
There is some truth in Desi's claim: laddus can indeed be boring because, when made the run-of-the-mill way, they are nothing more than balls of sooji or chickpea flour with sugar and a spice, cardamom being the most common. Often, they drip with ghee or oil, making them even heavier than they already are with all that sugar.
Ghee's nuttiness contributes a lot of flavor to laddus, so for my vegan version I found a healthier, and tastier, substitute: cashews, powdered fine and mixed in with the sooji or rava. Ergo, Kaju Rava Laddus.
In went some grated coconut -- a staple of most Indian sweets -- and some more chopped nuts and raisins for even more deliciousness.
If you're on the fence about Indian sweets-- or laddus-- or would just like to try something new and different that you can't possibly screw up, these laddus are for you. They're not too cloyingly sweet, but they're rich with the scent of cardamom and soft and chewy at the same time. Even Desi, the reluctant laddu gourmet, gobbled these down. As for Jay, now that these have been polished off, I just know a new campaign for laddus is about to begin.
More delicious and dairy-free sweets
Kaju Rava Laddu
- 1 cup rava or sooji
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- ¾ cup raw cashews (powdered. Make sure they are powdered quite fine, into a flour-like consistency. You should get about a cup of powdered cashews.)
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2-4 tablespoon nondairy milk
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup cashews (chopped)
- A pinch of saffron threads, (optional)
- Heat the oil. Add the raisins and the cashew pieces and saute for a minute or until the raisins start to puff up and the cashews are just very lightly brown.
- Add the coconut and saute for a couple of minutes. Stir all the time-- coconut can burn easily if left unattended.
- Add the cashew powder and saute another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the rava/sooji and again, saute, stirring frequently, until the rava gets quite fragrant. Your nostrils will be able to tell for sure.
- Add the sugar and cardamom powder and cook, stirring, for another 3-5 minutes.
- Add the almond milk, a little at a time, until you have a mixture that is not too moist but clumps together. Stir in the saffron, if using. Turn off the heat and let it sit a few minutes until cool enough to handle.
- Once the mixture is cool enough but still warm, take enough of the mixture to form a ball about an inch in diameter. You can of course make your laddus bigger or smaller, but I like this size the best.
- Roll the laddu in your palms to make a round. You can apply a smidge of oil on your palms to make this process easier. Shape the remaining mixture this way.
- Share. Eat. Enjoy.
Thank you so very much for this deliciously simple recipe!! ? All my love. Namaskaram ?❤️
So happy you made them!
Vaishali you are my new best friend 🙂 just made these for Karva Chauth. They are awesome! Even my husband said it was “an explosion of flavors” (which is not something he EVER says about Indian sweets). Your recipes are my go to’s now. Love your website!
Pooja, that's so lovely to hear! So happy you and your husband loved them, and thanks for letting me know--you made my day! 🙂
What's the shelf life ?
In the refrigerator should last at least a couple of weeks.
I have been craving for vegan rava ladoo for quite some time. Ghee free ladoo - Yummm :). Used earth balance once but failed. This version looks simple- just practice of shaping ladoos.
The Vegan Junction
Coconut, yumm! These sound delicious!
Oh man....these look dangerous but so good! Haha, between the coconut and cashews I imagine these are both tasty and very rich!
Love that frying is not needed! If only the nuts could be eliminated, I could make these for a nut-allergic friend who would so enjoy them! Any suggestions?
Hi Maxine, you can leave out all of the nuts. Don't use the cashew powder or the cashews, and make it only with the sooji and coconut. They would still be very tasty.
Oh yes, on the menu for this weekend, for certain. Thank you!
Thanks, Nancy, hope you try!
I completely agree, I'm not much a beasn/rava laddu person (I do love the boondhi laddus my grandmom makes though) but I just might try this one! I have a question, would coconut powder work? I only have the frozen (coarsely) shredded coconut and the coconut powder, it'd be great if I could use the powder out of the packet.
Hi Krithika, I used the frozen shredded coconut too, so you can definitely use that. I also don't see why coconut powder wouldn't work, although it might burn more easily so be careful when you saute. Also, the texture of the laddus would be different-- smoother-- but not bad at all. If you try it, I'd like to hear how it turned out.
Hot dang! "Can't possibly screw up" is exactly my speed. These sound great.
For those of us who are gluten-free and thus can't use sooji, what do you think will happen if I use cream of rice, which seems to have a similar texture, although maybe a little finer? If I try it, I will report back on how it went.
Thanks for posting another totally kickin' recipe!
Hi Catherine, you can definitely try these with cream of rice. Should work just fine. And yes, if you try, do let me know how they turn out.
These look so much healthier, and yummier, than traditional laddus. I steer clear of laddus whenever we go to Indian weddings. Too sweet! And my husband is allergic to the ghee (he's not allergic to dairy, so maybe it's fake ghee, or the coloring or preservatives in cheap ghee?) anyway, I am tempted to give this one a try!
Hi Honey, these are definitely healthier because there's none of that cholesterol from ghee. Hope you try!