I'm Eating What?! Rajgira Ladoo
This week, it looks like I'll be eating balls of birdseed. A clear package sits on my desk. The label says Best Quality Bansi manufactured these Rajgira Ladoo. So far, exactly two words on the package make sense to me. The next five words, Les Balles de Rajgira Douces, don't clear anything up. They do make me giggle a bit, knowing that it's one stray H away from being a hygiene product rather than a snack of some sort.
Reading the ingredients clears things up a little bit. The first ingredient is Rajgira, which by the looks of it is used to sustain chickens and sparrows. A few familiar ingredients follow: peanuts, Jaggery, and glucose. Peanuts and tons of sugar should make whatever this Rajgira stuff is at least palpable.
I open the package, which contains nine symmetrical balls. I'm assuming that the thumping sound that the first ball made against my desk means I'll be able to see the inside of the treat. Instead, I look down and notice the falling ball made a small indentation in the desk and rolled away unharmed. My teeth shriek in anticipation.
I pick up the rogue Rajgira Ladoo and roll it around in my hand. It's slightly larger and denser than a golf ball. The sugars in the Ladoo act like a cement as no matter of rolling, picking, or banging against the desk knocks a single morsel off the ball. I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to eat this thing. I raise it to my mouth and attempt to take a chunk out like I'm eating an apple.
After a trip to the kitchen to get a knife, I hack away at the birdseed ball until it finally breaks in two. I'm surprised to see there is no creamy filling, just a solid mass of Rajgira with a couple chunks of peanuts. I'm also pleasantly surprised to find that all the handling of the ball has softened it enough that my molars might be able to make a dent. I pop a chunk into my mouth and bite down.
It's still insanely hard, like biting into a jawbreaker. Once I've softened it enough it begins to dissolve on my tongue and I'm struck with a familiar taste. It's almost exactly like Cracker Jacks. Cardboard taste and all. The texture is exactly the opposite of the candied popcorn with the decoder ring. Gritty, sandy, and destined to find its way into every crack and crevice in my mouth, I try to swallow only to find it's just sticking to the roof of my mouth and deftly avoiding all saliva. After a few minutes of gathering spit and washing it down, The aftertaste starts to kick in. It's a wet cardboard with some sort of algae spread kind of aftertaste. Whatever this Rajgira stuff is, it clearly ruined the sugary peanut-y taste that could have been.
Who should eat this? Rosemary's teething baby, people with steel jaws, seniors who want to destroy their dentures, and bears. If you're one of these things, head on over to Little Market Indian Grocery & Spices (3062 N. Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale). For a similar taste with fewer cracks in your teeth and jaw line, soak a box of Cracker Jacks in water and chow down.