Its Makar Sankranti on Monday. It marks the beginning of harvest season, longer days and transitioning out of cold winter days. In Maharashtra it is celebrated by exchanging til – gul ladoos ( sweets made out of seasame seeds and jaggery) both because they are warming foods in the cold winter days as well as because they are readily available ingredients at this time of the year.
Puran polis’ and halwa also make an appearance on the menu. Mom used to host a haldi kumkum in the evenings where she would invites her friends over and give them til gul halwa and a token gift. Dressed in black, the only time of the year where its ok to wear black on a festival, my brother and I would eagerly wait till all mom’s friends have left for the evening so we could eat those ladoos. In fact I love them so much that I volunteered to roll out ladoos this year after mom made the mix.
I am in Mumbai this year and helped make her traditional ladoos. Easy to make, they are healthy and perfect to snack on. The key to their success is in handling the jaggery correctly. It has to be softened on low to medium heat without letting it boil. If jaggery boils, it makes the ladoos chewy and stringy rather than the soft one you have in mind.
Mom’s Til Kut Ladoos Recipe:
Makes 40 – 45 lemon sized ladoos
- 1 pound seasame seeds
- 1 cup dessicated coconut or kopra grated
- 3/4 pound jaggery grated
- 3- 4 table spoons ghee or clarified butter
- 2 table spoons water
- 2 tea spoons, cardamom seeds coarsely crushed
1. Mom’s preps for these ladoos over a few days. First sesame seeds are cleaned, washed and dried. Then they are dry roasted till they are light pink and stored in an air tight container. Dry coconut or kopra is grated and then lightly roasted as well.
2. A day before making the ladoos, coarsely grind the seasame seeds.
3. Prepare the jaggery over low heat. Add ghee in a pan and keep it over low heat. Add grated jaggery. Add water and mix well. Take it off the heat and keep stirring to ensure that the melt doesn’t boil. This is the hard part so that the jaggery melts but is lump free as well.
4. Once ready, add the cardamom powder, coconut and til. Mix well.
5. Cool overnight or for couple of hours. Shape them into ladoos. Enjoy!