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Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad and Tobago

Sweet Hands

By Ramin Ganeshram

Published 2018

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The tender yet grainy texture provided by the split peas makes this one of my favorite desserts. It is one of the few Indian Trinidadian desserts that hasn’t held true to its original recipe, in that it calls for regrinding the ladoos after they are fried. Another difference is that traditional ladoos use gram (chickpea) flour or semolina flour.


  • 1 cup dried yellow split peas, soaked overnight in 3 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup ghee
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ (12-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves


  1. Drain the split peas and grind in a food processor or meat grinder to a coarse consistency.
  2. Combine the ground split peas with the baking powder, evaporated milk, and ½ cup of water. Set aside for 2 hours.
  3. Shape the split pea mixture into 2½-inch balls.
  4. Heat the ghee in a deep frying pan. Test the ghee by dropping a pinch of flour into the pan; if it sizzles, it is ready. Fry the balls for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and cool on a plate lined with paper towels.
  5. Once cool, place the balls in a food processor and regrind to a coarse consistency. Set aside.
  6. Bring 1 cup of water and the sugar to a boil in a deep saucepan, simmering until the sugar reaches the thread stage, when a candy thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 215°F. Test by dropping some syrup in cold water; if it becomes threadlike, it is ready.
  7. Remove the syrup from the heat and add the condensed milk, ginger, and cloves and mix vigorously until the mixture becomes stiff. Fold in the ground split-pea mixture and mix well.
  8. Form tablespoons of the split-pea mixture into balls. Allow to set for 2 to 3 hours. Store in a sealed plastic container or dish covered with plastic wrap. Serve with tea.