Ladoo: A timeless treat with a 4,600-year history

Motichoor laddoo. Photo: Shutterstock/

Who doesn’t love to satisfy their sweet tooth with a round, saccharine ladoo? This beloved Indian delicacy has been delighting palates since time immemorial, often making celebrations and happy moments feel incomplete without a box of ladoos. Victories, especially in long-drawn hustings, are also often celebrated with the distribution of these sweets. Though the style of ladoo-making varies by region, the typical ingredients include besan flour or other cereal flours, sugar, ghee, raisins, and cashew nuts.

Motichoor laddoo
Motichoor laddoo. Photo: Shutterstock/Vijayography

Among the most sought-after ladoos are the Motichoor ladoo of North India, Churma ladoo of Gujarat, Coconut ladoo of South India, Til ladoo of Assam, and the Kerala ladoo, a variant of Boondi ladoo. Ladoos are cherished not only in India but also in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Did you know that ladoos have existed since the Harappan civilization (Indus Valley Civilisation), often referred to as the cradle of Indian culture? Archaeologists recently discovered solid evidence that the inhabitants of the Harappan regions, spread across India and Pakistan, made ladoos. They excavated ladoos nearly 4,600 years old from Binjor, a cultural center of the Harappan civilization in western Rajasthan. Seven ladoos of similar size were found in the area. Initially, the archaeologists mistook the brown ladoos for mud balls, but when smeared with water, their colour changed to a red tinge. The ladoo samples were then sent to laboratories for further analysis.

 Indus Valley Civilization
Remains of the Indus Valley Civilization at Harappa, Pakistan, in a photo taken on March 15, 2017. Photo: Shutterstock/Iftekkhar

It was found that these ancient ladoos contained barley, wheat, peas, and flour of high-protein beans. The multigrain ladoos were also rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Sushruta, known as the father of surgery in Ayurveda, prescribed medicinal ladoos made with herbs, jaggery, certain peas, and honey for patients undergoing surgery. Even today, many rural parts of India serve ladoos to pregnant women, and traditional medical practitioners mix bitter medicines with ladoos to make them easier to consume. Additionally, many temples in North India distribute ladoos as holy offerings, with the Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh being famous for its ladoos.

Check out a delicious ladoo recipe here

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