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.
Pain shoots through my teeth, down my jaw, and into my neck. It's
like trying to bite down on a rock. My teeth hardly make a dent in the
outer layer. Maybe biting a chunk off isn't the best idea. I decide to
just scrape it against my teeth and hope something comes off...
Nothing. Rajgira Ladoo might be impossible to eat.
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
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.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.