Bandar Laddu and Bandar Halwa: Two sweets that have brought fame to Machilipatnam

The sweets, which originated in the small coastal town in Andhra Pradesh, are sought after around the world by the Telugu diaspora.
Bandar Laddu in Yello colour and Bandar Halwa in Brown colour spread in trays
Bandar Laddu in Yello colour and Bandar Halwa in Brown colour spread in trays
Written by:

Whether it's a small family gathering, a festive occasion or when there is simply a craving for treats, two sweets have captured the appetites of those near and far from the small coastal town in Andhra Pradesh where they’re created. Bandar Laddu and Bandar Halwa are made in Machilipatnam, and soon, a batch of those sweets will be travelling as far as California and Portland in the United States.

“It's a ritual. We must send parcels with loads of Bandar Halwa and Bandar Laddu to them, which my children are fond of. These days, even my grandchildren have also started craving those sweets and we have to send them, whenever a sweet request comes in,” says B V Hema, a resident of Machilipatnam. She further adds that she has also been sending those same sweets to her brother who has been living in Seattle for the past 20 years.

Hema’s family is just one example of the love that the Telugu community and diaspora has for these two sweets. Bandar Laddu and Bandar Halwa are special to the coastal town and are a must on any major event for those from the area. These two sweets have even made the name of the town spread far and wide, and are transported around the world, including London, Australia and the United States, shopkeepers say.

These sweets have also made their way into events like the Telugu Mahasabhalu, held in Hyderabad to represent the culture of the locality. Erstwhile actor and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR) was known for his love of the sweets and had them delivered to his town in Nimmakuru in Krishna district. Chakravarthi, from Tata Rao Sweets, a sweet shop that’s been operating in the coastal town since 1951, the sweets are a near requirement for some.

TNM will take you into the kitchens of Andhra to see how these treats are traditionally made and why they’re so beloved.

Bandar Laddu

Bandar Laddu, also known as Thokkudu Laddu, is known for its unique methods of preparation in this town and stands out among several other variants of Besan Laddu that are available across the country. The soft yet crunchy laddu is the town’s favourite. It also received the recognition of a Geographical Indication (GI) tag in the food category in 2017.

Coming to ingredients, all you need is gram flour, jaggery, and ghee to make this laddu. But it’s the preparation where there is a twist. Chef Satyanarayana, who has been involved in making Bandar Laddu for the last 50 years, says that the unique nature of Bandar Laddu comes from the ghee roasted chunks of besan, which are powdered once more to make the laddu after it is mixed with jaggery syrup.

Describing the method, Satyanarayana says the gram flour batter is poured into the sieve and made into Karapusa (small vertical chunks) by pouring the batter into the boiling ghee with a machine. The chunks offer a nice aromatic flavour to the laddu.

Then, the small roasted chunks are crushed into a powder. The powder is once again mixed with jaggery syrup and is manually beaten again at regular intervals for about five to six hours.  The thick mixture is then made into small portions of laddus using melted ghee.

Though the locals of Machilipatnam now claim this way of making this laddu, according to reports, the preparation of laddu was introduced to the town after the 1857 Sepoy mutiny by Rajastanis who migrated to the coastal town back then. Even now, many years later, locals choose it as a livelihood option.

Bandar Halwa

Dripping with the ghee, embedded with nuts, a jelly-like softness, a subtle sweetness on the tongue —that is Bandar Halwa for you. The sweet is dark brown in colour and melts in the mouth, while also holding a slight crunch at the same time. This is yet another favourite sweet for those in the town and abroad.

It takes about seven hours to traditionally prepare this halwa on a husk-burner mud stove. It requires wheat milk extracted from wheat flour, jaggery syrup, cashew nuts and ghee.

The extracted wheat milk is mixed with fully-boiled jaggery syrup. After combining the duo, it is heated again at a low temperature for six to seven hours, then mixed with nuts and ghee while still boiling. The mixture, in liquid form, is then poured into trays to cool. This entire process takes about eight hours to get large quantities of halwa.

Though these dishes are special to Machilipatnam, they are also available in several other sweet shops in Hyderabad and other cities in the Telugu states. With ghee, both sweets are priced at anywhere between Rs 540 to Rs 600 per kg, while the non-ghee variants are available at around Rs 300 in the town. For many occasions, be it college freshers and farewells to weddings and receptions, the welcome presence of the sweets is a must.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute