With this week’s health topic being all about saffron, I thought it was a great time to share one of my favorite saffron recipes! Laddus are traditional Indian cookies that are small, yet very sweet and satiating. Besides their deliciously creamy taste, these sweet treats are exceptionally easy to make using only the heat of the stove top, meaning no baking needed! This particular laddu recipe utilizes not only the blissfulness of saffron, but also brings a unique quality by using chickpea (besan) flour as a base. This not-so-common ingredient addition increases the health benefits further providing us with a grain-free, gluten-free and guilt-free dessert!
Saffron is well known for its ability to boost the mood, promoting happiness, peace, love and compassion. It is considered an energizer, rejuvenative and powerful antioxidant making this treat as nourishing as it is delicious. Combined with the appetite sustaining, protein-packed power of chickpea flour, you will easily be able to curve your sweet tooth with only a cookie or two, creating energy and happiness rather than guilt, heaviness or lethargy (say like that bowl of ice cream).
Health Benefits of Saffron
- Rejuvenates the vital tissues
- Balances all three doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha)
- Promotes happiness, peace, love and compassion
- Boosts the mood
- Reduces sadness, grief, depression, anxiety, anger and other emotional imbalances
- Nourishes the reproductive system
- Increases fertility and libido (both men and women)
- Beneficial for healing the uterus during the postpartum period
- Beautifies the complexion (both internal and external use)
- Treats skin disorders such as acne, eczema, vitiligo and hyper-pigmentation
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces pain including nerve, lumbar (lower back) and rheumatic pain
- Alleviates headache
- Increases heart health
- Reduces cholesterol levels
- Stimulates circulation
- Builds the blood, beneficial in anemia
- Powerful anti-aging, antioxidant properties
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
- Excellent protein source
- Incredible source of fiber, manganese, phosphorus, copper, iron and zinc
- Excellent source of Vitamins B’s and folate
- Provides appetite control and sustained hunger
- Lowers LDL cholesterol, overall cholesterol and triglycerides
- Regulates blood sugar
- Supports colon, digestive and heart health
A few other mentionable ingredients include the addition of ghee, shredded coconut and numerous decadent, aromatic spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger and turmeric. I decided to use maple syrup rather than cane sugar as I enjoy the taste much more, and do not get a weird energy crash after eating it (as I often do with white sugar). All and all this amazing Saffron Spiced Laddu Recipe is the perfect blend of health, bliss and sweetness!
- Doshic effect: Vata ↓*,Pitta ↓, Kapha ↓*
- Yield: roughly 20-25 small balls
- Time: 20-30 minutes (plus extra time for cooling)
- Gluten-free, Grain-Free
- Vegetarian (can be made vegan)
*May increase Vata and Kapha in excess, please see the optional doshic variations below the recipe to make it more Vata and Kapha friendly.
Saffron Spiced Laddu Recipe
- Large, deep sauté pan
- Mixing bowl
- Mixing spoon
- Measuring cup and spoons
- Spice grinder or mortar and pestle
- 2 cups chickpea flour (also called besan or gram flour)
- 3/4 cup ghee
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp shredded coconut, finely ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (optional)
- 1 Tbsp cashews, finely ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (optional)
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut for topping
- 1 tsp Ayurvedic Breakfast Spices*
- 1 tsp saffron stigmas (about 1/2 gram or so), freshly ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
- About 20 extra saffron stigmas for topping (optional)
*The Ayurvedic Breakfast Spices can be replaced with 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cardamom, 1/8 tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp turmeric and 1/8 tsp nutmeg powder.
1. Place a deep sauté pan over medium heat and add in the ghee.
2. Once the ghee is warm and has melted completely, reduce the heat to a low-medium setting and stir in the chickpea flour.
3. Stirring the flour constantly (or at least one minute on, one minute off) cook here for 7 minutes.
4. After the first 7 minutes is up, add in the freshly ground cashews (optional) and coconut (optional). Stir these ingredients in until they are evenly dispersed and cook here for another 3-5 minutes.
NOTE: You will know that the chickpea flour is roasted properly as it will become light brown in color and give off a great aroma of toasted goodness! Avoid under cooking the flour since the raw version can taste a lot like raw garbanzo beans.
5. After the flour has been properly sautéd, place the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Let it cool here for about 10-15 minutes or place it in the refrigerator for 5 minutes. The dough will be at a touchable temperature once it is ready.
6. Add in the Ayurvedic Breakfast Spices, ground saffron and maple syrup. Stir well until the entire mixture is evenly blended.
7. Take a small amount of the dough and roll it into a ball (just smaller than the size of a golf ball). If the mixture is sticky, then try to wet your hands to make for a smoother roll. If the mixture is crumbly, more melted ghee or maple syrup can be added in very small increments.
8. Place these small balls onto a plate when they are finished.
9. Have a small bowl of a 1/2 cup of shredded coconut handy. Roll each ball into the coconut, coating them evenly around the entire surface. Place the coated laddu onto a plate.
10. Once the cookies are all covered, you can place an extra stigma or two of saffron onto each laddu, pressing them in a bit to avoid them from falling off before eating. This step is optional, but I really do recommend it!
11. Let the laddus cool at room temperature for about 1-2 hours before eating. For a quicker cooling period place the laddus into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. The finished cookie should not be sticky, gooey or fall apart, but rather relatively hard with a creamy softness (similar to a truffle).
12. Enjoy these amazingly spiced laddus as a dessert, an energizing snack or a mid-day pick-me-up! They are great for curbing the sweet tooth or during times of rejuvenation therapy, postpartum period, low mood, poor energy or general depletion.
Optional Doshic Variations
Although chickpeas are said to be Vata-provoking, every other ingredient in this recipe is Vata-reducing making this recipe overall balancing for Vata when eaten in moderation. With this being said, if the chickpea flour is increasing your Vata causing gas, bloating or the like, one can replace this ingredient with wheat flour or coconut flour as needed.
This recipe is overall Pitta-reducing and should not need any changes. However, a few of the ingredients used can be heating and therefore modifications may be needed. If your Pitta becomes increased from the warming spices it is recommended to omit the cinnamon, double the cardamom and cut the amount of saffron in half. The cashews can be heating as well and can be replaced with extra shredded coconut.
Chickpeas are a great flour base for reducing Kapha in the system as it is grain free, gluten free and filled with appetite sustaining fiber and lean protein. However the ghee, maple syrup, coconut and cashews are Kapha increasing and modifications may be needed. To avoid provoking your Kapha one should reduce the ghee to 1/2 cup, replace the maple syrup with honey (make sure the flour has cooled before adding the honey!) and the coconut and cashews should be omitted. The spices are great for stimulating the digestive fire and can all be used generously!