Boondi: Small round crisp balls made of besan (chickpea flour) deep fried until golden brown. This easy to make ingredient is used in countless recipes across India. Each ball is only a few centimeters in diameter, hollow on the inside and nearly flavorless, which allows boondi to take on the flavor of whatever recipe in which it is used.
In all my travels through India I’ve only tasted boondi as an ingredient in raita. Then one night, huddled under a cool Rajasthani sky at a small guesthouse in Nawalgarh, I was unexpectedly served the simple, delicious dessert of sweet boondi. Eating these little round balls of crunchy sweetness can only be compared to the texture of wasabi peas, minus the spiciness of wasabi. Slightly sticky to the touch, they’re eaten one piece or several pieces at a time like popcorn. Flavor wise the taste is nearly identical to jalebi, because they both are finished in a simple sugar syrup and both share the same glowing orange appearance as if they have just been dipped in glossy paint.
The tasty Indian dessert is a great way to soften the spiciness of any Indian meal and a little goes a long way. Your sweet tooth may be saying eat more but your expanding stomach will be screaming enough!
Making sweet boondi at home can be simple with a little practice. Preparing boondi from scratch does require a few special tools available at Indian grocery stores or online, as is pre-made boondi if you prefer to skip this step. Cooking the sugar syrup used to coat the fried balls and give them their sweet taste and gloss can easily be done in a regular kitchen pan.
How to Make Sweet Boondi
1 cup besan
water, add to achieve proper consistency
cooking oil or ghee
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
pinch of saffron strands
pinch of elaichi or cardamom
Place water and sugar in a pan, bring to a boil on medium heat. Stir continuously until all the sugar is dissolved. Add cardamom powder and few strands of saffron for taste
Reduce heat to low and begin preparing batter for making boondi
Mix the besan with little water to achieve the dropping consistency
Heat oil or ghee in a frying pan on medium heat
Holding the perforated ladle about 4-6 inches above the hot oil in the center of the pan. Pour the besan batter over the ladle to cover all the holes. The batter will drop through the holes into the oil
Deep fry till the drops become golden brown and the sizzling sound stops
Remove with a slotted spoon, drain to remove excess oil, and place directly into warm sugar syrup mixture. Mix well so all pieces are equally coated
Serve warm or cold
Optionally garnish with golden raisins and cashew nuts