Sesame seeds are from a flowering plant thought to have originated in Africa more than 5000+ years ago. Sesame seeds are an extremely robust & drought resistant crop, which makes them quite popular as a food source. Sesame seeds are also a good source of natural oil, which has a strong almost nutty flavor & is very popular in Asian cuisines.
Sesame seeds are very high in dietary fiber, calcium, iron & protein. They are also a beneficial source of antioxidants. Sesame seeds are commonly used in Indian cooking in both savory & sweet applications. They are known as “til” in both Marathi & Hindi languages. Sesame seeds are available in large quantities at any Indian grocery store or market.
A ladoo (or laddu) is a very delicious and traditional Indian dessert popular throughout the country. They are basically round balls of sweet yummy goodness that can be made in a variety of flavors and textures. Ladoos are always made on holidays, festivals and special occasions – in fact, it wouldn’t be much of celebration if the ladoos were missing! This wonderful dessert is actually quite difficult to describe since there is nothing similar to it in the American/European dessert repertoire. I think the closest example would be a “non chocolate truffle” if that makes any sense. You will just have to trust me, but I am sure your family and friends will enjoy it!
Makar Sankrant marks the holy harvest festival in India. This is the one celebration that is based upon the solar calendar and marks the transition of the Sun’s journey from the South to the North (from the Tropic of Capricorn into the Tropic of Cancer). Therefore it usually falls around January 13-15th depending upon the year. Traditionally, the Indian calendar is lunar based. In Maharashtra, Makar Sankrant is always synonymous with eating white sesame seeds & the more the better!
My Sesame Ladoos are heavenly little bites of delicious yummy goodness. These ladoos will literally just melt in your mouth and yes, they are really that good. If you prefer a little texture in your ladoos, then feel free to use the toasted whole sesame seeds and nuts accordingly. This is a great way to get your kids into the kitchen to help you roll the ladoos. If not, enlist the help of some friends or family. It’s a fun way to spend some quality time and bond with your loved ones ☺.
TILACHE LADOO (Sweet Sesame Seeds Balls)
1 cup white sesame seeds
½ cup raw peanuts (no skins)
¼ cup chana dal (split & skinned Bengal gram dal)
¼ cup dried coconut flakes
1 cup soft jaggery (gul), lightly mashed
2 tsp ghee or unsalted butter
pinch of ground cardamom powder
In a large dry skillet on medium high heat, roast the sesame seeds, peanuts, chana dal & coconut flakes – all separately, until lightly golden brown.
Now depending upon your personal preference, grind the toasted ingredients (sesame seeds, peanuts, chana dal & coconut flakes) into either a fine powder or a coarse powder – in fact, you can actually omit grinding the sesame seeds altogether if you prefer.
Now in a large deep heavy-bottomed pan on medium low heat, combine the soft jaggery & ghee together. Stir until melted & the mixture starts to bubble. When the jaggery has a syrup consistency, add in the sesame seeds along with the peanuts, chana dal, coconut flakes & ground cardamom powder. Mix well until all of the ingredients are well combined & while the mixture is still warm – shape them into small balls (about ping pong ball size). It helps to do this if your hands are slightly oiled. Allow the ladoos to cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container for about 1 week or longer.
If the ladoos get too hard, just soften them in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds before eating – but be careful, they are hot ☺.