HYDERABAD : The coastal town of Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh had been an important port for trading and commerce. The British, Dutch and French had used this port for making business inroads into this region in the 15th and 16th century. Being a port on the Bay of Bengal, the town is also colloquially known as Bandar to the local people.For the food lovers, Machilipatnam is known for its fresh and dry seafood. But, the most popular dish from the town is a sweet called Bandar Laddu or Tokkudu Laddu. The laddu made of besan and jaggery is so popular that it has earned the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2017.
The history of this sweet can be traced to the Sepoy Mutiny or India’s first war for Independence in 1857 when a large number of Rajputs migrated to this town from Bundelkhand in Northern India. They came to be known as “Bondilis” locally, and are credited to have brought the laddu recipe from the place of their origin, which was later embraced by the locals.
The making of these laddus is a bit complicated and time-consuming. Besan batter is passed through a sieve to make long strands or chaklis (locally known as karapusa) to be fried in hot ghee. These are then powdered and mixed with jaggery, and allowed to rest for a few hours. The concoction is pounded periodically in a pestle to attain smoothness.
Finally, the mixture is shaped into round balls with more ghee to complete the preparation, when dry fruits, nuts and spices like fried cashews, cardamom powder and raisins are added to the mixture to enhance the taste. Care has to be taken that the sweet is of the right texture so that it can hold its shape and not disintegrate. In some recipes, sugar is used instead of jaggery. The method of preparing chaklis and crushing them is unique to this laddu and differentiates it from the usual besan laddu preparation.
The fame of these prized Bandar Laddus has reached abroad too, with a significant quantity of them being exported to Europe and America. Thatha Rao Sweets and Malliah Sweets in Machlipatnam are among the most well-known manufacturers of this sweet. In Hyderabad, G Pulla Reddy Sweets, Vellanki Foods, and Almond House are known for high-quality Bandar laddus. Since all of these three chains have multiple outlets all over the city, look for the one closest to where you stay, to enjoy this delicious sweet.
Sabyasachi is a food enthusiast and blogs at www.foodaholix.in