Sesame laddoos (Tila laddu)

Wish you all a very happy Sankranti.

This year I wanted to make something special for Sankranti. While growing up, this was one of my favorite festivals. For me, the most important part of this festival is Tilgul - Til (sesame seeds) and gud(jaggery). We give spoonful of tilgul to others and say – “tilgul ghya goaD goaD bola“(take tilgul and talk sweet), which finally evolved into “Take sweet, talk sweet and be sweet” in schools. We kids used to have a competition to see who collects more tilgul. It was so much fun.

Before these fancy white colored tilguls(which have become just sugar drops these days) dominated the market, either sesame laddoos or sesame seeds covered with thin layer of sugar were very popular among Konkanis. People started getting fancy with these and sesame, peanuts, cashews, saunf(badishepi) etc covered with sugar started getting popular. Making these at home is very difficult and known to only few people. They need correct consistency of sugar syrup to get perfect tilguls. At my place, even though we share these white tilguls, some people still have kept the tradition of giving the sesame laddoos along with them.

I wanted to try making tilgul at home this year. But I am very bad at making sugar syrup. Aayi correctly said I can’t make it – “neither you have patience nor have you ever seen the process. So do not attempt it”. She never says that to me, so when she stressed so much, I thought its better not to try. She promised me that she will teach me when I visit her. So I thought comparatively easier sweet – tila laddu. After burning my hands in the process and loosing patience more than once, I got these beautiful laddoos. They tasted great. Aayi always makes them in huge batches and all of them in same size and shape. Looks like I need a lot more practice. I think molasses is little more easier to handle than the normal jaggery, so if you find it, use it.

1 cup sesame seeds (white)
2 tbl spn roasted, peeled and halved peanuts (ground nuts)
1/2 cup jaggery
1/2 tea spn cardamom powder

Wash the sesame seeds in water. Drain the water and spread the seeds on a clean kitchen towel for about 15-20mins(they need not dry completely). Roast them on a medium flame till they start popping and nice aroma comes out of them. Take them off heat.

Heat jaggery with 2 tbl spn water. Traditionally it is made with molasses(the black colored liquid jaggery, do not add water if you are using molasses). I tried here with the normal solid one.
Keep the heat on medium, because jaggery gets burnt very easily.

Take little water in a plate and add a drop of the jaggery in it. The jaggery should sit like a drop without getting diluted. That shows it has reached the required consistency.
Now add the sesame seeds and peanuts. Mix well. Take off the heat, add the cardamom powder. Mix again.

Take a big spoonful of the mixture on a clean plate (this is to help in easy cooling) & keep the remaining tightly closed(this mixture gets hard very soon, so need to keep it covered all the time).
Apply some ghee to your palms and make small balls of the mixture from the plate.

PS: Once the mixture is cooled, you cannot make the laddoos, so you need to work fast when it is still hot. Be careful not to burn your hands (the mixture at this stage is really really hot). Taking small portions on a plate helps to manage small portions at a time.
If the mixture cools off fast, then, heat it again for sometime till it melts and repeat the procedure.
If you cannot manage to make the laddoos, due to lack of time or patience, just spread the mixture on a plate greased with ghee, then cut them into desired shapes.

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