Porulvalanga Urundai – Vegan, multigrain protein balls

One two three - roll!

[It struck me very late and very recently that this is a very highly nutritious protein bar.  It would be, if you pat it down in a tray and score into pieces instead of rolling into balls.  Porulvalanga balls have all the nutrition packed in protein bars and it comes disguised as a very tasty sweet.  The good thing about these traditional power balls is that they transport well, stay good for as long as 2-3 months and do not contain any refined sugars, soy or other such additives.]

The preparation is a rather ancient.  My amma said, “yenga pati kaalathu lendu irukku” (Its been around since my Grandmum’s time).  Porulvalanga urundai, is a sweet preparation from the Southern part of India, rather Tamilnadu.

What’s with the name?

‘Porul’ – Ingredients. ‘Valanga’ – that which cannot be seen.

This is a laddoo or ball made with a lot of ingredients, and from the humble external appearance one cannot guess what is within. It is a nutritious and healthy blend of roasted whole grains (wheat and parboiled rice), and legumes (Bengal gram dal and dehusked mung beans) bound by a thick syrup of jaggery. It does not require any fats in the form of ghee or butter, nor does it contain refined sugar. Ah! Caught your attention, didn’t it? It’s a treasure.


In the olden days when mechanical transport such as trains, buses and flights were not available, distances stretched far. Pilgrims from far off places, traveled on foot to sacred places like Varanasi, Gaya and Rishikesh  in large groups and abstained from food cooked by others who did not belong to the same caste.  Casteism was a huge issue back then.  We did not call ourselves ‘vegetarian’ and ‘non-vegetarian’.  It was ‘brahmins’ and ‘non-brahmins’.  It might be difficult for some to visualise this kind of division.  I find it ridiculous too. One has to understand that those were different times.  The only good thing that came out of it was the diversity that Indian food rendered itself to.  Thanks to ‘brahmin cuisine’ we have a lot of inherently vegan dishes in India.

Abstinence also meant that meals had to be simple.  Addition of oil, ghee etc. was forbidden.  Consumption of food was permitted only after bath and prayer.  On certain days, that were considered auspicious, consumption  of onions and garlic was not permitted.

Porulvalanga urundai is probably the result of such restrictions that led imaginative cooks to come up with alternatives and; what a fantastic alternative it was! These tasty ‘rocks’ would not only provide instant energy but remain fresh in any climate for long periods.  Sustainable eating.

Beware though – you have to have a healthy set of teeth to bite into these laddoos! They are rock hard as they were made to last. If you have a decay or two, I would advice you to break the laddoos with a pestle before you sink your teeth. You can’t sink them, of course, all you can do is bang your enamel.  Ouch! 🙂

Just break off a small piece and savour it as it slowly melts down in your mouth and bite of little bits as it softens. Believe me, you are missing something if you do not eat this one. When we were kids it was our regular way to show off our strong white teeth by biting into one urundai and act as though it was a child’s play – when it really wasn’t!

This laddoo happens to be my favourite and my mother always makes a generous batch when I visit her. The last month was a very happy one for me as I rested at my maternal home, and enjoyed delicacies my Mom prepared.  The kids happened to have vacations, so it was a good break at Bangalore for them too. I read a lot of books, lazed the whole day, saw movies and took photographs of some of Mum’s dishes. It is the first time that my mother  saw me in action, and she was so proud – she is learning to surf the internet and checks my blog too. She put on first an air of disinterest and indifference, and then stayed around as I showed her the blog, and then started the criticism – “Do you only think about food and eating all the time?” she asked. I thought the note was negative, until she donned her apron and set out to show me in detail ‘the making of a porulvilangai urundai’, and set up the ingredients so I could get some great snaps. 🙂

That’s how she is –  not the kind to make an explicit show of her love, nor will she hug and tell, in fact a little reserved but the kind who would be around when you need her most. There was a time when I was the ‘unruliest’ of three kids.  I was the one who would always argue with mum and hope I wouldn’t become like her, and now when people tell me I am turning out a lot like her [Oh! they don’t forget to mention how my ‘unruly’ corners seem to have knocked down – hehe, they think they know it all ;)] – it just puts me on top of the world. It makes me feel proud to turn into my Mom!  Can’t believe that I am putting it out here. 🙂 I realise that this is nature’s way of humbling the ‘temple of youth’.

Recipe: Porulvalanga Urundai [Multigrain Ladoos]
Vegan high protein snack – Can be made gluten free by using brown rice in place of whole wheat.  Roast before pounding.


Dry Ginger Powder (Sonth or chukku), Cardamom powder (Elaichi or yelakkai). I haven’t put in the ratio as it up to you to increase or decrease the quantity of spices. You may also add Cashew chopped into little bits or chopped coconuts like my Mom.

The ingredients


Boiled rice – 1 cup (a variety of thick rice shown below)


Chana Da, Moong Dal and whole wheat grains – 1 cup each
Bhuja hua chana or pottukadalai (roasted/puffed bengalgram) – a fistful (Optional)

Roast the grains and dals separately to brown as shown in the image above and set aside a day before to cool completely. Roast separately as the time taken for each ingredient to brown is not the same. Also roast in reduced fire as the browning should be uniform. Mix the roasted and cooled grains and dals together along with the spices and pound it to a fine powder at home or a mill. This is the basic powder. When you are free you may proceed with the syrup.  This can be made in advance and set aside for a week or so and you can proceed with the next step when free.

If you do not want to make the laddoos you could use the powder by itself as ‘Sattumaavu podi’ or protein powder. Dissolve a tsp. of the powder in a glass of milk and cook a thin porridge, adding a little sugar or jaggery to taste. The porridge is excellent for recuperating patients, old people and for growing children.

Jaggery – 3 cups (You may add half a cup more if you like it really sweet but this is perfect)
Water – About a cup

Method to make the syrup:
Heat water and add the powdered jaggery. Let it melt completely and strain to get rid of impurities. Boil again till it passes the soft ball consistency test.

Soft ball consistency – Take a little tap water in a bowl. Add a drop of the jaggery syrup and shake the bowl slightly. If the jaggery disintegrates into strands, you need to boil it further. If it comes together and settles the syrup is ready to use. If the settled jaggery is hard that indicates an overcooked syrup. Add a tbsp. of water and loosen the syrup in that case. Please see below:

The syrup

Method to form the balls or laddoos:

In a large bowl take about 2 cups of groundpowder. Add a ladle of syrup and mix with a ladle quickly to just bring them loosely together. While it is still warm form the balls and set aside. It is best to do in small batches as the syrup tends to get hard with time. If you wait for the syrup to cool you will not be able to form the laddoos.

My mother makes the syrup for the about 40 laddoos, and turns off the stove. Then she forms 10 or 12 laddoos with a ladle of syrup. If the remaining syrup gets hard add a tbsp. of water and heat again till just soft (do not boil) and proceed as before.

Preparing the laddoos

My teeth are strong! Yay! I made a crater of a dent – did I not?

A bite or a crater?

He he – that would have loosened my cap – I just broke it with a pestle like I told you to do it. 🙂

Just recalled Susan’s brainchild – My Legume Love Affair! The guest host for November is Simona of Briciole!

This also gives me the oppurtunity to tell you all about the quaint cooking accessory I received as random winner of the third helping hosted by Lucy of ‘Nourish Me’ for my ‘Puzhukku‘. The book contains all kinds of trivia about cooking and eating – the historic facts associated with certain foods, and my son especially enjoyed it a lot. 🙂 Thanks, Susan! She was so thoughtful that she actually sent a book bound in imitation leather in keeping with my sensitivities – isn’t that just great? BTW – I am the host for July 2009 of MLLA!

Suganya, the wonderful cook and photographer of Tasty Palettes is hosting the second edition of vegan ventures – Vegan Ventures, Round 2 as November is the National Vegan Month! Sending the porulvalanga urundais to her too. 🙂


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • Susmitha - Veganosaurus

    Ooooh these sound yum!!! I love all these these ladoo type sweets.

    When I first saw the pic you’d posted on FB, I thought they were deep fried aloo bondas. haha

    • Harini Prakash

      Ha ha! The opposite of bondas. Sweet, healthy and no deep-frying involved. 😀

  • vatchala pugalendhi

    I had it in my college life from my friends on the special day aadi perukku.i want to try it. Thanks . But groundnuts and some other is also added in it.

    • Harini Prakash

      Traditionally groundnuts (or any other nuts) are not added, but I suppose you could.

  • Chitra

    Thanks for the recipe, of course even my grandma used to do, then itis long time over never tasted again, i want to prepare and give to my kids

  • Krishnan Iyer

    My mom just made this today 🙂 and I searched the web to see if anybody knew.. great recipe.. I will run it by my mom and see what she thinks.. I have loved it growing up.. my favorite for sure..

  • Sunita

    Hubby’s fav, was not sure about the grain combo and the proportion though
    thanks for the recipe and great pics too!

    • Harini

      Hey Sunita, this one turns out perfect in taste! Do let me know whether you liked it.

  • Sunshinemom

    Sudha, thanks for visiting. I think my Mum makes payatham maavu laddoo using those ingredients. I like that too very much.

  • Sudha

    Iam from Kerala…palakkad.My mother as well as grandmother used to make this Poruvilangai (we say like that)we use only moong dal,rice,dry coconut,cardamom,and jaggery .Thank u so much.

  • Lori

    Lots of beautiful food and pictures here on your site. I will have to stop back and explore some more!

  • Madhuram

    I’m stunned SunshineMom. Right from the description to the presentation, this is such an excellent post. The way you have depicted the ingredients is also very good. After going through these instruction even a novice anc prepare these urundais without any trouble. Hats off!

  • Usha

    Loved your post…I have heard so much about this urundai from my mil but I have not yet tasted this…will try the next time I am back home I guess….

  • Simona

    Your post made me smile. It is always a pleasure to learn about other people’s traditions. Thanks for participating.

  • Aparna

    You did it! You did it!
    These are my favourite laddus (along with maa laadoo and rawa laddoo. Do convey my thanks to your mother too.:)
    I remmember my grandmother making these and alst time I was in Palkkad, I came back with a bag full of them.:D

  • Sunshinemom

    Lubna, thank you so much for considering me!

    Priya and Viki Xavier – Thank you for returning the visit – it is my pleasure to greet you both with a childhood memory associated sweet!! It is words of encouragement from you guys that makes blogging entertaining and meaningful.

  • Viki Xavier.

    This is one of my favorite snack when I was a kid. Nowadays I can’t see any one doing this or knowing the correct recipe. Happy to see such a nice description. Thanks a lot for posting this, as this sweet kindles my pleasant memories.
    Moreover thanks for dropping by and keep visiting.

  • Priya

    U know wat…this balls reminds me my grandma..she used to prepare this urundai specially for them like anything…after my grandma, none know how to prepare these urundais, thanks for sharing, my hearty thanks for sharing such a authentic sweet balls…

  • Kitchen Flavours

    A small suprise waiting for you dear.Click on the link to follow Award Time

  • Sunshinemom

    Jayasree – Am looking forward to seeing yours.

    Lakshmi – Thanks!

    Saju – Thanks for visiting, and for the encouraging comment! I am glad to have visited yours too:)

    Bhawana – Thank you so much:)

    Sagari, Kalai – I am glad you liked the write up.

    Malar – Thanks! I used to call it podlangai urundai, and last year Mummy actually got tired of me pronouncing it wrong all the time, and gave me the stuff behind the name and the origin!!

  • Malar Gandhi

    First time here. You have a great blog! Porulvilangai Urundai….sounds great to me! All my life thought its ‘pori vilangai urundai’…used to wonder what pori has to do with it. Thanks for the info. Its wedding sweet, right! Wish I could make it sometime….

  • Kalai

    Urundais look great. Loved the write-up!! 🙂

  • Sagari

    very nice post

  • Bhawana

    Thanks for visiting my blog dear so I reached urs. U have a wonderful blog. and a very nice events round ups… good I have added this in my favourites :).

  • Saju

    Thanks for coming to my blog, that led me to yours. I love how you write, and your recipes.

  • Lakshmi Venkatesh

    Good to see you back Harini. Loved the Urundais. I never tried with jaggery syrup. Also read ur macaroon post. Ur family members were right.

  • jayasree

    Loved reading the post. Enjoyed the origin and what’s in a name part.
    Just today morning I was thinking of making poruvalangai and I find them here. Needless to say I am tempted to make it soon.

  • sunshinemom

    Sweatha – Thank you! As for cracking – yes they are hard:)

    Mahimaa – I would love to! No, this tastes very different. I think the rice and wheat lend a strong nutty flavor which you wouldn’t find in payatham maavu laddoo.

    Deepthi – Hats off to My Mum! I just took snaps as she was making them:)

    Divya – Many people don’t make it I guess! Some of my Tamilian frnds at office too haven’t heard of it!

    Simran – If you are planning to make macaroons check up Helen of Tartellet and Aran – They also are wonderful ladies who help via email:)

    Bharti – Thanks! I just forgot about Daddy! I see my son developing into his Grandfather:)

    HC – I have had alalose undais and they taste great but this one is different!

    Gita – Glad you enjoyed the post:)

    Cham – Same here!! I guess for some more time I too will just depend on Mum for these:)

    Sharmila – Thanks!! That is so encouraging:)

    Vij – Thanks! Your Ammamma may know about this!

  • Vij

    Lovely post. Neat step by step photographs. Gr8 job! This is the first time I am hearing abou it…gotta ask amma/amamma abou this..probabaly they will know!

  • Sharmila

    Aaah!You are back with a bang!This writeup shows you are well and back to your old self. 🙂
    WB Harini … keep writing and giving such recipes. This is indeed a treasure ball. 🙂

  • Cham

    I tasted long long ago 🙂 Very lenghty process…. Definetly I can only drool seeing this pictures!

  • Gita's Kitchen

    I too love this urundai. Thanks for sharing the story behind this 🙂

  • Happy cook

    We in kerala have a undai like this ofcourse not same, this reminds me of that. With us it was called alalose undda.
    I would love to try this

  • Bharti

    Lovely write up! Enjoyed reading it. It really is ironical how we turn in to our moms as we grow older (and sometimes our dads too). The ladoos look fab., literally a power house of quick nutrition.

  • Simran

    Aren’t mom’s and grandmother’s recipes always the best.

    I need to read that failed macarons post before I venture into making my own!

  • Divya Vikram

    I love the name! Havent heard of this thogh..


    i have eaten this .. this is a popular dish during the wedding season too .. I really dont have the patience to make this .. Hats off to you

  • Mahimaa's kitchen

    look at the picture..very well photographed.. like the zooming effect. does it taste like payatham laddoo? send some over Harini.

  • Curry Leaf

    Love the post more than the urundai,I am not too sweet person and aren’t these harder to crack.Love to know that you r from blore, and also about your mother.I have already read the macaroon post and I agree with your family in this- they r lovely and macaroons itself.Cheers,nice to have you back in action.

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