I have been chasing sesame seeds/ til since the time I read they are a great source of iron for vegetarians. I found them being sold in the healthy seeds section in Bulk Barn, along with chia seeds and flax seeds. I picked them up promptly and took myself back to the time when my mom used to make it every year – in January – for Makar Sankranti. They were my favorite and though i have gotten pretty good results here, the magic of my mom’s creations is yet to be re-created. This is a simple three to four ingredient deal – we just need something to bind the seeds together – mom uses khoya/mawa, i have used almond meal once and peanut butter the other time – both with success. Jotting down the recipe here for future reference.
Til/ Sesame seeds – 2 cups
Sugar – 1.5 cups
Almond meal – 1 cup or peanut butter – 1 cup ( I use Kraft 100% natural)
Water – half cup
Cardamom powder – half tsp (optional)
Almond pieces – of 10 almonds (optional)
1. Dry roast Til on a medium flame, till they give out a nutty aroma, turn slightly brown. Should take seven minutes of constant stirring.
2. Let these cool. Once cool, pulse them in a blender/ magic bullet to grind them to a coarse powder.
3. Put sugar and water in a pan and start heating on a medium flame. The sugar will start to dissolve. Keep stirring till the deal comes to a boil. Check for a single string consistency of sugar syrup. It took me three years to get this correct.
4. Add the til powder + almond meal or peanut butter, Stir to avoid lumps. Add in the cardamom powder too.
5. Keep stirring till this looks like a single mass. Switch off the gas and put the whole deal on a slightly greased plate. Using the back of a flat bowl, flatten it to get a uniform surface.
6. Sprinkle the almond pieces and wait for this to cool down a bit. It will dry up and harden.
7. Take a knife and cut into squares. Store.
8. If after adding the til powder etc you realize your stuff is runny and lose, dont panic. Add more almond meal or dry desiccated coconut (if handy) by spoonfuls till the desired consistency is reached.
Til Barfi with Peanut Butter
Til Barfi with almond meal
I am so tired of waiting for winter to arrive in Delhi. It is so sunny during the days that it is impossible to venture out till 6PM and so humid during the nights that you cant sleep without the air conditioning on. Summer is not getting over and I get up every morning hoping that I may feel some chill in the morning air – but am disappointed every day. Now, I am so desperate for winters not because I love wearing layers and hiding behind sweaters and jackets, but for the wonderful food options it brings along. I love going to the weekly vegetable market in winters – there are rows and rows of fresh greens, heaps of peas, carrots and cauliflower that I can never have enough of. I am also able to cook dishes which are on the richer side, in the name of ‘foods that keep you warm’ :). They say that our digestive system goes lethargic in summers and gets more agile and accepting in winters – and hence most rich halwa(s) and other sweet treats are usually prepared in winters.
A plate full of yellow glossy delights..
I had been eyeing so many almond halwa/ burfi and laddu recipes on the food blogosphere and was longing to try them. As evident from my rant, I was waiting for a hint of winter to get to it, but totally gave in the temptation and went ahead with these kesar badam laddus this weekend. And how I loved myself for my decision! It was an absolute delight and these bright, yellow balls of almond joy filled our mouths and hearts with their delicate flavors. The mild hint of cardamom along with the saffron pushed the entire thing to a new level. I could not help notice the articles about eating healthy in the newspapers as it was ‘World Heart Day’, but overcame my guilt by reminding myself that this did not contain a single drop of fat/ ghee. The natural oil within the almonds was enough for these to get soft and glossy. This recipe is what I evolved during the cooking process and is an amalgamation of all the recipes I went through. Another reason why I wanted to record this on my blog.
No one can eat just one – my challenge!
Almonds/ Badam – 2 cups
Milk – Half cup
Sugar – 1 cup
Cardamom / Ilaichi powder – Half tsp
Saffron/ Kesar strands – 3 pinches
Almonds – 10 – 12 for garnishing (optional)
1. Blanch the almonds. For this, put the almonds in a wide bowl with water. Keep the bowl on the flame for 5-7 minutes, the water will start to boil. Switch off the gas, and cover the bowl. After 10 minutes or so of waiting you should be able to pick the almonds and remove the peels easily. Alternatively, soak almonds overnight and peel them in the morning.
2. Spread the peeled almonds on a kitchen towel so that they dry up a bit.
3. Put the almonds along with one-fourth cup of milk in a blender jar and blend to a smooth paste.
4. Put a thick bottomed wok on the gas, on low-medium heat.
5. Pour in rest of the milk in the wok and let it come to a boil (1 minute).
6. Add the almond paste, sugar, cardamom powder and saffron strands.
7. Now, let this mixture cook for a good 20-25 minutes, stirring continuously.
8. Meanwhile, chop the almonds for garnishing to small bits and spread them on a plate.
9. Once the mixture reaches a soft dough consistency, switch off the gas and let it cool. It will get all glossy due to the almond oil.
10. While still warm, pull out small portions of the mixture and roll it into a small ball/ laddu with your palms. Roll this laddu on the plate containing the almond bits so that they stick to the surface of the laddu.
11. Repeat for the entire mixture. Keep the laddus in the refrigerator.
12. Pick one whenever you want and bite into the chewy soft ball. You will feel transformed to paradise, as the texture of almonds and flavors of saffron and cardamom fill your mouth and soul. Repeat with the rest of them! 🙂