Sunnundalu are traditional sweet balls made with urad dal, jaggery/sugar, cardamoms and ghee. Also known as sunni undalu, these are a ladoo variety popular in Andhra Pradesh, South India. Sunnundalu are made during festivals, religious occasions & celebrations. These are also offered to the deities, growing kids, pregnant women and people recovering from sickness. These high protein & high fat ladoos are said to strengthen the body by providing essential nutrients.
In this post I share how to make sunnadalu 2 ways – with sugar and with jaggery.
Traditionally Sunnundalu are made with black urad dal, i.e whole urad with the skin intact. These are roasted on a medium heat until super aromatic and the dal inside turns golden. Later they are cooled down and passed through a stone mill/grinder (thiragali) to split and separate most of the husk.
A small portion of the husk is still stuck to the urad dal and this adds more fiber and flavor to the ladoos. But times have changed and most people now make these with white urad dal because of the absence of stone grinder & the tedious work involved.
In the past, sunnundalu were a staple in many homes especially with growing kids. Most Telugu Speaking families make these at least once or twice a year for Sankranti, Dasara or Ugadi. A lot of people also make these to gift someone near and dear during festivals/ Pooja or Vratham.
Many people also make the mixture ready and store it for several months. Just add ghee and make the ladoos whenever required to satisfy your sweet cravings.
Sunnundalu are delicious, aromatic and addictive only if made right. My post will help you address bitter ladoos, sticky ladoos & chewy ladoos with my step by step instructions.
These urad dal ladoos can be made with sugar or jaggery. But somehow I am partial to the sunnundalu made with sugar & love these. My entire family likes the jaggery version more for its caramel like flavor. So I really cannot suggest which one is better than the other.
If you do not offer foods made with sugar to deities. Bellam sunnundalu are perfect for naivedyam.
How to Make Sunnundalu (Stepwise Photos)
I made 3x recipe so you will find more quantities in the pictures. You may skip these steps of rinsing but I always do it to get rid of any pesky stuff on the surface. Even organic lentils may have some unwanted residue.
Add 1 cup urad dal to a bowl and rinse them well thrice. Be quick while you rinse don’t let the lentils soak in water for too long. Drain to a colander. Shake it gently to get rid of excess moisture.
Transfer them to a clean cloth and pat dry. Or You may simply spread in a tray and let fan/air dry for 10 mins.
With Rinsed lentils: Transfer to a large pan and begin to roast stirring continuously on a high flame for 5 mins. Reduce the heat to medium and roast for 2 mins. Later reduce to low and dry roast for 3 to 4 mins.
With Unwashed lentils: To roast the unwashed lentils start on a medium low heat & roast for 5 mins. Keep stirring continuously so they don’t burn. Reduce the heat to lowest and keep roasting until crunchy, deep golden and aromatic.
At the end of roasting, urad dal should look deep golden, taste nutty and smell very aromatic. Immediately move the pan away from the stove and keep stirring for another 1 minute. Cool a bit and taste test a few roasted lentils, they should not taste raw or sticky.
Cool completely and transfer to a grinder.
Grind to a slightly coarse powder, as coarse as super fine semolina like chiroti rava. Take a few pinches of this mixture and taste it. You should feel a very fine crunch but not too coarse. Also make sure you don’t make it too fine because no one likes if they stick inside the mouth.
Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Sunnundalu with Sugar
Add 10 tablespoons organic sugar to a grinder. If you use refined sugar, use lesser. Also add 3 to 4 cardamoms.
Make a very very fine powder. Test this as well.
Add the powdered sugar (retain a few tablespoons in the grinder) to the urad dal flour and mix them well.
Taste test and add more powdered sugar if you want. I add all of it. At this stage if you want you may transfer it to a air tight glass or steel jar and store at room temperature for several months.
Urad Dal Ladoo with Jaggery
Add ½ grated or powdered jaggery. I used 140 grams. Mix with a spoon.
Grind all of them together. Taste test and add more if you want. I used about ¾ cup. Note that store bought jaggery powder is different so you may need more.
Measure half cup ghee to a small pot or bowl. Heat it either on the stove or in the oven (not microwave). I usually heat a pan and then place this on the pan. this way your bowl won’t become too hot but the ghee just melts and becomes hot.
Ensure your ghee has no moisture else the ladoos won’t keep good for longer.
Start by adding 4 teaspoons of slightly hot ghee. Keep adding more as you require.
Mix only a portion of the flour with the ghee.
Sunnundalu mixture should look like very fine wet sand. Take 3 to 4 tablespoons of this mixture with your fingers and press down into your palm to shape ladoo. If the ladoo crumbles it means it needs more ghee. If it is soggy and out of shape, it means too much ghee. So mix in some more dry ladoo mixture.
You can make big or small according to your choice.
Place them on a plate. Let cool and then smoothen them again by rolling in your hand. These were the ladoos with jaggery.
Make the sugar ladoos too the same way. Sunnundalu mixture with sugar takes up lesser ghee because the sugar melts a bit when you add slightly hot ghee. These are sunnundalu made with sugar.
Store them in a air tight jar away from moisture. If you use jaggery finish them in a week or store them in the refrigerator. The ladoos made with sugar keep good for a month at room temperature.
Avoid Sticky Ladoos: Your urad dal flour should be slightly crunchy and not too fine like flour. However it should not be too coarse. If it is too fine it sticks inside your mouth.
Avoid Bitter Ladoos: Sometimes lentils take on bitter taste due to aging. Use fresh stock of urad dal. Also taste test before you use them for the ladoos. Also rinsing the dal helps in reducing bitter taste.
Raw Taste: Make sure you roast the urad dal very well until they are cooked through from inside. Taste test the roasted lentils to make sure they are well roasted. Unroasted urad dal can make sticky ladoos.
Don’t skimp on Ghee: Ghee helps in digestion and use it generously. If possible use organic ghee made from cultured butter. It is easily digestible. Each ladoo has less than half tablespoon oil
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup urad dal (215 grams)
- 10 tablespoons organic sugar ( ½ cup + 2 tablespoons, reduce to use refined sugar)
- 4 green cardamoms (⅓ teaspoon cardamom powder)
- ¼ cup ghee (2 tablespoons optional, if needed)
- 1 cup urad dal
- ¾ cup jaggery (140 grams, not jaggery powder, adjust to taste, read notes)
- 4 green cardamoms
- 6 tablespoons ghee (more if required)
- Optional – You may skip this and the next step. Add urad dal to a bowl and rinse well thrice with lots of water. Quickly drain to a colander. Shake the colander well to get rid of any excess water.
- Spread it on a clean cloth and pat dry. Alternately you may spread it on a tray and fan/air dry it for 10 mins.
- Without Rinsing Lentils: If you did not rinse the lentils, start on a medium low heat & roast for 5 mins. Later reduce to completely low and roast until aromatic, deep golden and crunchy. Turn off the heat.
- With Rinsed Lentils: Add the rinsed urad dal to a heavy bottom pan and begin to roast on a high flame, stirring often for 5 mins. Then reduce the heat to medium and roast for 2 mins. Later reduce the heat to low and roast for another 3 to 4 mins.
- Urad dal should turn golden but not burnt. (Check the pictures). You should smell it nutty, aromatic and the dal should be crunchy. Cool the lentils completely.
- Test the lentils: Eat a few lentils to make sure they are cooked well. You should not feel them raw or undercooked.
- Later add to a grinder jar and make a powder that is slightly coarse like fine semolina or chiroti rava. Make sure it is not too coarse nor too fine. Take 1/8 teaspoon of this mixture and taste it. You should feel a very fine crunch but not too coarse.
- With Sugar: Transfer the urad dal flour to a mixing bowl. Add sugar & cardamoms to the same grinder. Make a super fine powder and add that with the urad dal powder. You may want to start with lesser quantity of sugar, taste test and add more. Mix and taste test, adjust the sugar as required. You can also store it in an air tight jar for several months and make ladoos later.
- With Jaggery: Keep the urad dal powder in the grinder. Add chopped or grated jaggery (start with lesser quantity) to the grinder and grind for a few minutes until well blended. Taste test and add more if you want. Transfer to a bowl.
How to Make Sunnundalu
- Heat ghee in a small pot until it melts and becomes slightly hot. Start by adding 4 teaspoons to the sunnundalu mixture. Mix only a portion of the flour with the ghee until you get a fine wet sand like texture.
- Take 3 to 4 tablespoons (a small handful) mixture with your fingers and begin to press down into your palm with your fingers to shape the ladoo. It takes a few minutes to form a ladoo. If the ladoo doesn’t bind, it means you should add more ghee. If it is too soggy and loosely shaped, it means it requires more flour.
- Add a few teaspoons of ghee at one time to the mixture and form balls. The jaggery version takes a little more ghee than the sugar ones.
- Cool them completely and if you want you press them again to shape properly and smooth. Store sunnundalu in a steel or glass jar. Store at room temperature for a month and in the refrigerator for 3 months.
- If your ghee is not cooked properly, it will reduce the shelf life. If so you may want to heat it well to make sure there is no moisture in it. Cool it a bit and use only when it is slightly hot.
- Jaggery and jaggery powder are not same. Both differ in the moisture levels and sweetness. I have used the traditional jaggery here. If you use store bought jaggery powder, you may need to add more jaggery and ghee too.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Sunnundalu recipe first published in March 2013. Updated and republished in August 2022.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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