Thursday, 12 January 2017

Til and Nuts Chikki (Sesame seeds and mixed nuts brittle bars) - {Sankranti Colab with Oriya Rasoi}

Ah winters, my absolute favourite time of the year, especially here in Pune where its not bone freezing chilly, but most definitely is cold in the sense of the word "cold". Having lived in Mumbai for most of my life, which for the uninitiated is hot, humid and sultry (save for the one hour long winter chill {not really} that it experiences in January or February), I savor each day of winter that Pune is blessed with and thoroughly enjoy the season (waking up at 7 am not withstanding).

Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path, which is the first change in the zodiac after the winter solstice and is the first day of the month of Magha. The festival is celebrated in various parts of the Indian subcontinent to observe the day which marks the shift of the sun into ever-lengthening days. The festival is a seasonal observance as well as a religious celebration. Makar Sankranti is a solar event making it one of the few Hindu festivals which fall on the same date in local calendars every year i.e. 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 15 January.

This is also a special day for the women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-together called ‘Haldi-Kunku’ (literally meaning turmeric-vermillion) and given gifts such as utensils, clothes etc. Typically, women wear black sarees or black coloured outfits on this occasion. The significance of wearing black is that Sankranti comes at the peak of the winter season and the colour black retains and absorbs heat, helping to keep warm.

The states of Maharashtra and Gujarat are also famous for kite flying on this special occasion. People fly kites on this day because by doing so, they unknowingly receive the benefits of sun exposure. During winter, ones body gets infected and suffers with cough and cold and the skin also gets dry. When the Sun moves to the north, its rays act as medicine for the body. During kite flying the human body is continuously exposed to sun rays, which eradicates most of the infections and insanitation.

Also, in Maharashtra on Makara Sankranti day people exchange Til Gul laddoos (a colourful sesame ball shaped candy coated with sesame seeds). While exchanging til-gul as tokens of goodwill people greet each other with the words "Til-gul ghyaa, aani goad-goad bolaa" meaning ‘Accept this til-gul (sweet) and utter sweet words’.

The underlying thought in the exchange of til-gul is to forget past ill-feelings and hostilities and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends. The importance of sesame seeds is that they keep body warm and provide good oil, which is needed in winters to keep ones body moisturised.

The recipe I'm sharing today is that of Til and Nuts Chikki (meaning brittle) which is made exactly like a Til Gul laddoo, but has two twists to the same i.) No need to roll the hot candy mixture into balls and repeatedly bruise your palms and ii) an addition of mixed nuts thus upping the immunity fortifying ante.

Chikki also makes for a great on the go snack and energy booster, such a savior during winters, Cool innit?

Read on for the recipe,
Makes: 15 - 18 finger long chikkis

You will need:

1/2 cup white sesame seeds
1 tbsp khus khus (poppy) seeds
1/2 cup chopped mixed nuts (I used almonds, pistachios and cashews)
3/4 cup chopped jaggery (I used Bengali Nolen Gur - date palm jaggery) alternatively you may even use an equal amout of dermerera (brown) sugar.
2 tsps ghee (clarified butter) - You may substitute this with butter or coconut oil.
1/2 tsp green cardamom powder

Start by dry roasting the sesame seeds till they change into a golden brown colour, turn of the flame and set aside.

Next lightly roast the poppy seeds on a low flame till they change colour too.

Next you may optionally roast the nuts and keep aside too.

Now, line a shallow rectangular tray with baking paper, lightly grease with clarified butter and keep aside.

Now, in a heavy bottomed pan melt the ghee and jaggery on medium flame, till the jaggery liquefies and a drop of the mixture put in water solidifies immediately (meaning hard ball candy stage) this will take approx 3 mins.

Now, add the sesame seeds and mixed nuts to the jaggery in two batches (this is to safe guard against the jaggery falling short resulting in the chikki not binding properly. )

In case you are short of jaggery add less of the dry mixture.

Combine on low flame and add in the powdered cardamom pods.

Immediately transfer into the lined tray, flatten the top with a flexible spatula and immediately cut into squares (this helps in breaking off pieces easily once the brittle has set)

Allow the chikki to rest on the counter for 15 mins before removing the parchment and breaking into pieces.

Done, Enjoy!

Also do peep into Sweta's blog Oriya Rasoi to checkout her Sankranti recipe for Buckwheat and Sesame Halwa


  1. It looks so inviting !! Much better than the store bought ones :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.


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