Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tilkut(sesame seeds bars)

First of all happy "Sankranti" to every one.

I remember when I was at home, my mother used to make sesame bars or sesame balls all the time. Not only in the special festival but otherwise too.

The main reason behind starting to make that was health .My father was transferred to a place which had lots of cement factories .As a result problem of pollution was huge and people used to develop lung and breathing problems a lot. When My father was transferred to that place as a precaution doctor asked him to eat products made of jaggery.Now eating jaggery alone was a not an easy task ,so my mother came up with the idea of sesame balls or bars which were made of jaggery.

No matter what the reason was, we kids also had good time eating them even though we did not live in the cement factory place .My father lived there alone and would come on weekends. Unconsciously I also learn't making that.

Now I live in a place, which is so polluted that we do not get a chance to see the starts in the sky. Since Phoenix is a valley and thus surrounded by mountains, it is very hard for the polluted air to escape out. All the polluted air stays trapped in and the sky is not clear enough to let the stars visible to naked eyes. The saying that starts are countless is proved completely wrong with the stars in Phoenix sky. I was completely unaware of this fact until I visited Lowell Observatory. That tour was incredible .We not only got to see 100 year old telescope in a wooden dome which was used to discover the planet Pluto but we also found out some interesting facts .The tour guide said that the pollution level in Flagstaff which is just 2 hours drive from Phoenix is much lower than Phoenix. That was obvious when we saw the sky full of starts at night in Flagstaff and compared it with stars in Phoenix. I never saw that number of stars after I left India what I saw in Flagstaff.

Apparently, when I came back to Phoenix after Flagstaff trip, the first thing, which struck my mind, was to make that same old sesame balls and bars. Went to an Asian store and bought plenty of sesame seeds packets along with lots of jaggery.Now was the time of real experiment and test of my cooking skill, which I learnt unconsciously from my mother when I was a kid. I am glad that every thing went well, and the sweet came out good. Most importantly, my husband loved it and I felt my hard work was worth every thing.

Later I also found out that not only are sesame seeds very good source of manganese and copper, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber. In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.

The only thing I wish is that, I could send few pieces to my mother to let her know how her skills became helpful to me and how proud she should be for me. I wish she could taste a piece of these sesame bars.

Making this long story short(which is already too long) lets jump to the recipe.Here is what you are going to need:-

1. 2 cups raw sesame seed(buy from whole foods ,they are the best)
2. 1 cup of jaggery
3. some water

1) In a hot wok dry roast the sesame seeds until brown.Cosntant stirring is required otherwise they burn very fast which will give a bitter taste to the bars.

2) This is how they will look.It takes about 6-7 minutes.The aroma of roasted sesame seeds will be everywhere in the house.Transfer them into a bowl to avoid getting further roasted.
3) Put them in food processor.If you dont have one you can use mixer or grinder .The whole idea is to grind the seeds very course not fine.If nothing than mortar and pestle will also do.That is what my maa used .

4) Here is how they will look.

6) heat up a non stick pan ,add jaggery and little bit water like 1/2 cup and bring it to boil.Remove the dirt with a spoon.Now keep boiling for some time until you get the consistency of the liquid very stringy and bubbling like shown below.

7) To test if the jaggery syrup has attained the desired consistency you can take some cold water in bowl and pour some bubbling liquid .You will see that as soon as you drop the liquid in the cold water it will from into a thick mass like caramelized candy.This step in very crucial as formation of proper bars depends upon how your jaggery syrup is.
8) If you try to stir with a spoon the mass will stick into it and with your fingers you can easily form a ball of jaggery.That is when you know your syrup is done.

9) Now pour the syrup into ground sesame seeds ,not all at once but little by little.In the mean time keep stirring the sesame seeds powder so that you will get an idea how much more syrup you need.Once you think you have poured enough syrup ,you can stop and give it a final stir.
10) Mix properly.You will have to be very fast because if the mixture cools down even a little then the jaggery syrup will crystallize.So keep every thing prepared ahead of time.
11) Transfer it into the aluminum paper.

12)Dip your hands in cold water and start flatting it out.Keep it about 1/2 inch thick.Let it cool down a little .

13) Cut it in what ever shape you like.I made them in a square shape.

14) Enjoy.Once completely cooled down you can store them in an air tight container.It stays well for 2-3 weeks.However it is better not to make in large batches because the oil in sesame seeds can go rancid if kept for a long time.

15) On Sankranti we have the tradition of eating "chura-dahe-chinni aur tilkut"(That is water soaked beaten rice ,yogurt,sugar and sesame seeds bar)
Again the nice thing is that there are very few ingredients used,has less fat and very simple and less time taking.Above all a very good source of calcium.Sesame seeds have more calcium than milk.Good for kids as they love eating sweet ,at the same time getting loads of calcium for their constant and rapid bone formation.

This post is my contribution to "cooking with seeds event" hosted by Priya.


  1. Wow! this looks too tempting..first time to your the pictures drop in at my blog too..

  2. Hi I was just wondering if your father ate only the sesame and jaggery during his recovery, or was he eating other food as well?

  3. He was eating everything else along with a little extra amount of these seeds bar.This is actually a very healthy alternative for all the junk foods we eat these days even for those people who do not have any problem.
    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  4. This is wonderful! Will be making some for Makar Sankranti! Also, they say that you should use particularly black sesame seeds as they are much better for you and very appropriate for the astrological events occurring on Makar Sankranti according to Jotish! :)

  5. This is wonderful! Will be making some for Makar Sankranti! Also, they say that you should use particularly black sesame seeds as they are much better for you and very appropriate for the astrological events occurring on Makar Sankranti according to Jotish! :)

  6. wow, thanks.... Am surely going to try these.... Made peanuts and til ki chikkis for the first time during sankranti.....

  7. Thanks a lot for this husband loved it was so good

  8. The recipe looks very interesting, I will give it a go bu first please tell me what is jaggery?.

    1. Jaggery is basically concentrated sugar cane juice .It is not refined so jaggery is brown color depending upon the amount of molasses it contains.Once you refined the concentrated sugar juice it becomes sugar.So jaggery is healthier as it has the benefits of molasses.