One of the healthiest and scrumptious sweets of North Karnataka is karadantu made in Gokak in Belgaum district and Aminagad in Bagalkot district. This teatime snack is made from dried fruits and nuts, jaggery (gur), a binder known locally as antu, spices and others.
There are two versions on how this delightful sweet was created. Some say that it was first prepared in 1907 in Aminagad and then came to be sold in Gokak as Gokak karadantu. The original recipe had mixed dried fruits like almonds, cashews, figs, copra, jaggery, dates and antu that were fried in pure ghee and hence, gradually came to be known as karadantu.
Another version is that this was created by a resourceful vendor in Gokak who used to sell this sweet in the local market. He used to prepare the sweet from besan, jaggery and groundnuts.
The sweet became popular with the locals. Soon, various versions of this unique sweet were created with freshly sourced jaggery, raisins, cashew nuts, almonds, figs, dried dates, copra, groundnuts, antu, spices like nutmeg, ginger and cardamom and ghee.
Locals say that the best jaggery comes from Kolhapur and Karad, ghee, almonds, raisins and cashew nuts are bought from Belgaum, antu and dried dates come from the old market of Hyderabad and copra from Arsikere in Hassan district.
Jaggery is boiled in a large cauldron till it reaches the optimum temperature. The grated copra and chopped dried dates are added first. The mixture is stirred continuously and the rest of the dried fruits and spices are added in slowly.
The thickened mixture is then poured into large trays and allowed to cool. The dried fruit mixture is gently patted down and allowed to set. It is cut into bars and packed to be sold in local markets. There are many variations of this native sweet in the market and though Gokak and Aminagad use slightly different ingredients, the final product is remarkably similar in taste!
Karadantu is high in protein, iron and fibre. It is a fabulous energy bar and helps to keep the hunger pangs away. It is a great substitute for sinfully rich sweets that most crave for after a meal especially lunch.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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