Magaji Ladoo: The gastronomic journey of the GI-tagged sweet of Odisha

Odisha, after its sweet battle for Odia Rasagola and delicacies like Chhena Poda, has gained attention once again as another sweet from the state has got the geographical indication tag. Know the history and origin of Magaji Ladoo.

Hitanshu Bhatt
New Update
magaji laddoo

The list of food items from the land of Lord Jagannath getting GI-tagged keeps on increasing day by day. With the newest edition of 'Magaji Ladoo', the state has attached one more feather to its iconic representations. While items like Koraput Kala Jeera Rice also known as the 'Prince of Rice,’ Similipal Kai Chutney, Nayagarh Kanteimundi Brinjal, Odisha Khajuri Guda, Odia Rasagola have already been on the list of GI Tags from Odisha in the food category, the Magaji Ladoo recently made its place in the 'GI Tags of Odisha' list. Let us know what significance this sweet holds in the state. 

Located in the east-central part of Odisha, Dhenkanal is a small district that is filled with the aroma of laddoos, which will now spread to the entire India. Magaji Ladoo, which can now be called 'Dhenkanal Laddoo' is a popular sweet delicacy of this town. There are various stories as to who invented this popular dish. 

Legends related to the history of Magaji Laddoo

history of magaji laddoo

One popular legend is that the Sadangi region of the Dhenkanal district was known for animal husbandry since it had an abundance of stocks. Cattle, especially buffalos were reared by the people of this region to earn a livelihood. This activity led to a stream of buffalo milk production and people started to produce cheese out of the milk. With the production of cheese, people started experimenting with it and making different food items. One of them was ‘Magji’ or ‘Magaja.’ The people of Sadangi started selling it locally which gradually spread to the entire district of Dhenkanal, eventually to Odisha and now to the entire country as it has received the geographical indication tag. 

Another legend says that the sweet was first made in 1300-1400 AD. Sridhar Swami, a saint who lived in a shrine named ‘Kapilas’ was visited by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to learn Bhagabat - a Hindu scripture. During his stay, Swami offered him sweets made of buffalo milk cheese which was liked by Mahaprabhu and became famous in the region.

Sahoo magaji laddoo
 Hrusikesh Sahoo in his sweet shop (Image Courtesy: Caleidoscope)

In modern times, Adikant Sahoo is accredited to have brought back the popular sweet. Through a careful process of curdling the milk to create cheese - locally known as Chhena, sweetening it with sugar, and flavouring it with cardamom powder, a paste is made. Once cooked and cooled, it could be shaped into balls - called laddoos. Four generations later, this sweet is still sold by his grandson Hrusikesh Sahoo in the same sweet shop. 

The Sahoo family has played a vital role in getting this delicacy national recognition. Hrusikesh got fully involved in the process of documentation, detailing and providing all the necessary information to the committee. After getting testimonials from the village about the historical records of the sweet, its legends and the traditional process of making it, Magaji Laddoo finally got the GI Tag in 2024. The GI tag not only validated the authenticity of Magaji Ladoo but also provided a significant boost to the cultural and commercial value of the Dhenkanal district. If you are fascinated by the story of this gastronomic delicacy, you might want to try it at your home. To simplify things, here is the recipe for Magaji Laddoo. 

making of magaji laddoo
Image Courtesy: Mrunalinee/YouTube

Magji Laddu is an off-white coloured ladoo that is prepared with sugar, cardamom and cheese from Buffalo’s milk, which is locally known as ‘Chenna’. To remove excess water from the cheese, wrap the "Chenna" or cheese with a cotton cloth and squeeze. Following the filtration process, cardamom and sugar are added. There is usually half as much sugar in the combination as there is cheese. Previously cooked in an earthen pot, the mixture is now cooked over a gentle flame in a pan. Everything is well combined and stirred for a while until you are satisfied with the texture. After the process of frying is done, it is cooled for a maximum of 35 to 40 minutes. The batter-like paste is then rolled with the palm to form little ladoos with the appropriate radius. Once this is done, the "Magji" is ready.

GI-Tags of Odisha GI tag in 2024 recipe for Magaji Laddoo history of Magaji Laddoo GI Tags from Odisha Dhenkanal Laddoo