Vegan Besan Ladoos are an Indian sweet made from besan (chickpea flour). This vegan version omits ghee from the traditional recipe, making it suitable for those following a vegan diet. These ladoos have a crumbly texture, a bit like shortbread, with a nutty flavor that comes from roasting the chickpea flour. And best of all, they come together all in one saucepan!
Simple Indian dessert
So me and my Indian coworker both love food, and during one conversation about what we wished we were eating that day, he brought up ladoos. The first (and only) time I’ve eaten ladoos was in my first week of uni when my roommate brought them all the way from India. Even though that was over a year ago by then, I hadn’t forgotten the unique taste and texture.
So when Kulshaan mentioned ladoos, I was instantly reminded of this experience. I googled the ingredients and was surprised to find out they are actually pretty simple, and I already had all the ingredients in my pantry! I told Kulshaan I was going to make ladoos one of these days and bring them in for him to try. He seemed skeptical at the time, tbh. It’s probably been a month since I first made that promise, but hey a late delivery is better than never, and I’m sure he didn’t mind. In fact, he loved these ladoos so much he saved an extra one to bring home for his sister.
What You’ll Need
Besan (Chickpea Flour): Chickpea flour is also known as gram flour or besan. You can find it at Indian supermarkets, as well as most Freshco and Real Canadian Superstores here in Canada. They create the nutty flavour of these vegan besan ladoos. And because these ladoos are made with chickpea flour, they also have the benefit of being gluten-free, for those with celiac disease.
Ground Cardamom: I used my Blendtec to grind up the cardamom pods. You could also use a mortar and pestle to grind them up. Note that it doesn’t have to be super uniform and fine.
Powdered Sugar: It’s important to use powdered sugar (also known as confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar) because it ensures the ladoos end up with a fine texture. Regular granulated sugar gives them a gritty texture, and the mixture stays sticky and are difficult to roll.
Vegan Butter or Vegetable Ghee: Vegan butter gives ladoo its rich and buttery taste. Alternatively, you can use vegetable ghee, also known as vanaspati ghee (a plant-based alternative to cow or buffalo ghee, made from vegetable oil). However, vegetable ghee is often not the healthiest as it is produced through hydrogenation, and contains lots of trans fat. So I prefer to use vegan butter.
And that’s all you need. Just 4 ingredients!
A lot of ladoo recipes call for other ingredients to add in like cashews or other flours, but I wanted to keep mine simple so I could enjoy the pure taste of roasted chickpea. It’s pretty rare to find chickpeas in a sweet dish, but it really shines in this recipe. Of course, you can add other things to if you want—like Chocolate Chip Cookies, ladoos too have endless variations. I’m sure most chopped nuts would work well, as would dried coconut. Maybe even chocolate chips?
See the process pictures below for an idea of what your recipe should look like at each stage; it’s important not to rush the process!
Step 1: Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium heat and mix in the chickpea flour. After mixing it into the butter, it will initially look very crumbly and dry.
Step 2: Eventually (and it may feel like forever), the chickpea flour will darken, butter will start leaking out, and the dough will look wet. Turn the heat off at this point.
Step 3: Add sugar and cardamom to the mixture.
Step 4: Mix thoroughly to combine…
Step 5: Once ready, the mixture should not stick to the saucepan or your hands when you start handling it.
Step 6: Roll into small balls and let cool fully. The ladoos will firm up as they cool.
Note: Cooling the ladoos is optional, but the inner texture is different when eaten warm (more chewy, like peanut butter) vs room temperature (crumbly and “fall apart” like shortbread). I like both!
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The Easiest Vegan Ladoos
Use Imperial/Metric buttons below to toggle between volume vs weight measurements. I recommend weighing out your ingredients for best results.
- Small saucepan
- ¼ cup vegan butter or vegetable ghee 60 g
- 1 cup besan aka chickpea flour
- ¼ tsp ground green cardamom see Note 1
- 1 cup powdered sugar see Note 2
- Melt vegan butter or vegetable ghee in a small saucepan on medium heat.
- Add chickpea flour and mix evenly with a spatula or wooden spoon to form a crumbly mixture.
- Stir continuously (to prevent scorching) until butter starts to seep out of the mixture, creating a paste that resembles thick peanut butter. This step can take a while so don't get impatient! Your first sign that the mixture is almost there is when it starts getting darker in places.
- Turn off the heat and mix in the powdered sugar and cardamom. Once thoroughly combined, take the saucepan off the heat.
- When it has cooled enough to handle, take handfuls of the mixture and roll with your palms into ping pong-sized balls. Let cool fully (see Note 3).
- If you don’t have pre-ground cardamom powder, you can also use a blender or mortar and pestle to grind up whole green cardamom pods into cardamom powder. Note that it doesn’t have to be super uniform and fine.
- If you prefer less sweetness, you can start with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and add more to taste.
- Cooling the ladoos is optional, but the inner texture is different when eaten warm (like a chewy peanut butter cookie) vs room temperature (crumbly and “fall apart” in your mouth). Try both and see which you prefer!