Ladoo and Family: A Guest Post by Ambreen Naveed

I met Ambreeen while we were both working on a Master of Social Work degree. What I noticed right away about her was her ability to build community. Not only was she incredibly welcoming and kind, she often brought food to share with our class as a way for us to build relationship. From spicy and savory oatmeal to sliced papaya, the food she brought was a way for us all to share in something bigger than our school work. In our chats together, I have learned that food is a very important part of Ambreen’s life and I am so happy that she was willing to share a post with us. Today she will be talking about how she cooks with her daughter and how that connects to culture and other life lessons. Thank you so much for sharing Ambreen!

Today I will share about when I made laddoo with my daughter. Laddu or ladoo are ball-shaped sweets popular in the Indian Subcontinent. Laddus are made of flour, minced dough and sugar with other ingredients that vary by recipe. They are often served at festive or religious occasions.
I cook with my daughter because it creates a safe and warm space for us to share and bond. Along with the nature and healing qualities of South Asian spices, I pass down my family stories and history from our Persian-Indiana background. The cooking helps my daughter to have cultural roots and stay grounded and helps her to spread her wings in homeland Canada. The cooking session helps us to laugh and bond and talk about serious stuff like safe touch and consent. The cooking is not only about exploring multicultural food but also about bonding and deconstructing what it means to be loved as a woman.
Cooking also helps me and my daughter to be aware of our footprints in the ecosystem and to appreciate and value the food, the farmers, and how privileged we are to have access to food. We also explore our own food insecurity and feel like winners when we cook amazing meals on limited budget that has lots of love in it! Food is coping for us.
Here is the recipe we used from Manjula’s Kitchen.
2 Spoon
◾1 1/2 cups gram flour (besan)
◾2 tablespoons semolina flour (fine sooji)
◾1/2 cup unsalted melted butter (ghee)
◾3/4 cups sugar
◾4 tablespoons sliced almonds (badam)
◾1/4 teaspoons coarsely grounded cardamom seeds (ilaichi)For Garnish:
◾1 tablespoon melted butter or ghee
◾1 tablespoons sliced pistachios (pista)Method:
1.Put the besan (gram flour), sooji, and melted butter in a large frying pan and mix.
2.Turn the stove on to medium heat and begin to roast the basen mixture until basen becomes light golden brown in color. Stir the mixture continuously with a spatula to prevent burning. Cooking on high heat will not allow the mixture to fully cook.
3.When the color has changed you will also start to smell the sweetness of roasted besan. This should take about 7 to 10 minutes.
4.Remove the pan from the heat and let the basen cool to a warm temperature. don’t let it become to room temperature.
5.While the mixture is warm add and mix cardamom seeds, almonds, and sugar.
6.To make the ladoos, take about 2 tablespoons of warm basen mixture into your palm. Gently press the mixture between your palms to form a smooth, round ball. The ladoos are usually about the size of a ping-pong ball, but you can adjust the as you prefer.
7.When you have finished making all of the ladoos, take one ladoo at a time and dip the ladoo a quarter inch into melted butter or ghee. Then lightly touch the part of the ladoo with the butter into the sliced pistachios just enough so some pistachios stick to the ladoo.
8.Put ladoos back on the plate with the pistachio side facing the top.
9.Leave the ladoos on a plate to cool to room temperature before putting into a covered container. The ladoos can be stored in an airtight container for 2 to 3 weeks.

Thanks again for sharing your story and recipe with us Ambreen! 

If any of these ingredients are unknown to you, Ambreen said you should be able to find them at any South Asian ethnic stores, or if you’re in Toronto, try Iqbal!

If you would like to do a guest post for Guliash Girl, please send me an e-mail at or find me on Facebook. 

-Happy Cooking


Ambreen Naveed is a Canadian Muslim woman (hyphen identity), grown in Canada with Pakistani roots, carrying the best recipes from both cultures. She is a social worker, a mom raising three teenagers, a critical thinker, and a lover of life.

All photos by Ambreen Naveed. Special thanks to Manjula’s Kitchen for the recipe used in this post.

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