Saffron laddus are the most popular of the varieties. Image credit: Flickr
Saffron laddus are the most popular of the varieties. Image credit: Flickr

Laddu/ laddoo/ ladoo is a popular ball-shaped Indian sweet. It’s a snack commonly found during Indian festivals and family gatherings, such as birth ceremonies and weddings. The laddu is also offered as prasad/prasadham in Hindu temples. There are different kinds of laddus, with varying ingredients. Flour, sugar and ghee are the common ingredients. Often, dried fruits and nuts are also added to the mix. The sweet is very popular in India, with almost every region or state having its own version.

Origin and Popularity

The word “laddu” originates from the Sanskrit word lattika or ladduka, which means a small ball. Laddus initially gained prominence as a natural medicine to cure teenage girls’ hormonal issues. Til laddu (sesame seed laddu) is considered the oldest variety of laddu.

Human hands play a major role in the laddu-making process. Image credit: Flickr
Human hands play a major role in the laddu-making process. Image credit: Flickr

The laddu’s popularity can be attributed to both its taste and its longer shelf life, making it compatible with long-distance journeys.

The following are the major varieties of laddu:

  • Boondi Laddu – Made from boondi (small fried and sweetened chickpea flour balls), boondi laddus are typically served during Indian (Hindu) marriages and festivals, such as Diwali and Raksha Bandhan.
  • Til Laddu – Til laddus are basically sesame seeds coated with honey or jaggery and formed into a ball.
  • Besan Laddu – This laddu is made from besan (gram or chickpea flour), ghee and sugar. This laddu is usually a part of North Indian festivals and celebrations.
  • Motichoor Laddu – A laddu made from gram flour, sugar syrup, and dried fruits.
  • Tirupati Laddu – A special laddu served at the Tirupati shrine, the laddu is made from gram flour, dried fruits, spices and edible camphor.
  • Rava Laddu – The laddu is made from semolina (durum wheat endosperm), which is soaked or cooked in rich milk and sugar syrup, and the mixture dried to attain the trademark ball shape.
  • Churma Laddu – Made from wheat flour, milk and water, churma laddus are ghee-fried and the mixture then treated to spices and powdered jaggery.   
  • Groundnut/Peanut Laddu – As the name suggests, the laddu is made from peanuts, jaggery, cashews, cardamom powder and the usual suspects.  
  • Shahi Laddu – A laddu variety that’s enriched with figs, dates, vegetable seeds and fruit.  

Laddu is a versatile sweet and it can have almost anything as base ingredient, if the ingredient can be shaped into a ball.