Nobody knows how the deep fried balls of moong dal came to be known as Ram laddoo. It might have followed the Hindu belief that something with no name can always be attributed to Ram, one of the most venerated gods.
Strangely, two completely different food items are labelled Ram laddoo in Delhi. While one is the crusty daal dumplings, the other is a sweet-sour teeny-weeny ball of tamarind pulp enmeshed with pomegranate seeds. Vendors, mostly migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, carry the wicker baskets of Ram laddoos on their head and a bamboo stand under their arm.
Stopping where the crowd is, they set up the stall and serve the dumplings in a leaf bowl, garnishing them with grated radish, deep-fried batter-coated green chillies, and a generous helping of raw mango-pudina chutney. The laddoo is dry, but the radish finely knocks out its little toughness. The crumbly blandness is nicely balanced with the chutney's biting sourness.
Such vendors are often spotted in the flea market of Janpath. There is one at the bus stop in South Extension-I. In Lajpat Nagar’s Central Market, vendors stock their laddoos in carts. Theirs is softer, but they add no extra garnish to gain extra points from customers. It is this stubborn simplicity that makes Ram laddoos so evocative of the old times when life was so less complicated.
Price of one plate of Ram laddoo Rs 5