I am a part of a group called the South North Challenge, where a member/host of the Southern region challenges the members from the North and vice versa. I belong to the South Team and hence take up the challenge posed by the North team host. Sanoli of Sanoli’s Kitchen was the host for the month of January and she challenged us with this amazing Bengali sweet called Labongo Latika which is made during the auspicious Durga Puja or Makara Sankranthi.
Labong or Lavang means cloves. This sweet is made of sweetened khoa/khoya filled inside a crusty pastry covering and sealed with cloves. This is later dipped in sugar syrup to give it that rich flavor. I am so happy to have learned a very traditional sweet and it was a wonderful addition to my family’s favorites.
Preparation time – 20 mins
Cooking time – 1 hr
Difficulty level – Medium
Ingredients – Makes 20
For the outer covering –
- All purpose flour – 2 cups
- Powdered sugar – 3 tbsp
- Salt – ½ tsp
- Baking soda – 1/8th tsp
- Saffron – 1/8th tsp (soaked in couple of tbsp of warm water)
- Ghee/clarified butter – 3 tbsp
- Warm water – to make dough
- Oil – to deep fry
- Cloves – 20 (to seal the sweet)
- Khoya/mava – 200 gms
- Sugar – 4 tbsp
- Nutmeg powder – 1/8th tsp
- Warm water – 1/3 cup
- Raisins – ¼ cup
- Sugar – 1 cup
- Water – ½ cup
- Rose syrup – 1 tsp (optional, I did not use it)
To make the dough –
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, saffron water and ghee. Mix well. Now slowly add warm water and make smooth dough. Cover the dough with moist cloth and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
- Grate/crumble the khoya in a sauce pan. Now add the warm water, sugar and the nutmeg powder and let it cook on medium heat. Keep stirring it continuously and let the mixture thicken (this will take about 10 minutes). Now add the raisins to it and mix well. Once the mixture starts leaving the sides of the pan, remove it from flame and let it cool down. The mixture will thicken further on cooling.
- Heat the sugar, water and rose essence (if using) in a wide pan and let it come to a boil. Let it simmer until the syrup comes to two thread consistency stage or soft ball stage.
- Keep the syrup warm when making the sweet. It will be ideal to make the syrup when you are making the sweet pockets. Make sure that the syrup does not become too thick. If that happens add couple of tbsps of water and simmer it.
- Once the dough has rested, divide it into 20 equal portions.
- Now roll each dough into small circle and place a teaspoon of filling inside.
- Fold inside from two opposite sides and then repeat the same from the 2 other sides to make a pocket. Now seal the pocket with a clove. Refer to the pictorial to help you make the pockets. Repeat the same with the rest of the dough.
- Heat the oil to deep fry the pockets. Once the oil heats add 3-4 pockets into the hot oil and cook it over low to medium heat until it golden brown on all the sides.
- Repeat the same with the rest of the pockets.
- Drain it from the oil and add it to the warm sugar syrup. Let it soak in the sugar syrup for 4-5 minutes and make sure that the pocket is evenly coated on all the sides.
- Drain it from the sugar syrup and let it cool down on a cooling rack placed over a tray. Repeat the same with all the pockets.
- Let the sweet cool down for couple of hours and then enjoy!
- Once entirely cooled, store it in an airtight container. This can be refrigerated for up to a week.