A Floridian at heart, I am your flip-flop girl. From summer dresses to beach fun, I am game even for the sweat. Now, bundled under my coat and scarves, I long for some sunshine.
The Indian holiday Sankranti, celebrated Jan. 14-15, rejoices this transition of seasons and the duality of love and hate tied to them. Basically, if I didn’t hate winter, I could never love summer. The day bids adieu to winter and welcomes young days of spring.
Celebrated for over 6,000 years, locals fly kites on this day as a metaphor for sending messages of thanks to the sun for providing them with a beautiful chain of seasons, Pandit Ramdev, priest of New Delhi Lakshmi Narayan temple said. During nightfall, households light bonfires and sing, dance and eat around the heat.
Tilgul Ladoo, a festive dessert made on Sankranti, uses sesame seeds and jaggery as its main ingredients essentially because they keep the body warm during winter. Jaggery is dried syrup from sugarcanes that ages into a fatless and highly nutritious sweetener. Tilgul Ladoos are very easy to prepare and provide plenty of health benefits.
According to Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, the benefits of jaggery include its ability to cleanse your body, act as a digestive agent, sweeten your food in a healthy manner and provide minerals your body needs, like iron.
“Mmm … these melt in your mouth,” My Nassau Sun editor Coulter Kirkpatrick said after taking a bite of a Tilgul Ladoo. “Can I have more?”
So cleanse your body while pampering that sweet tooth with this five-ingredient recipe of Tilgul Ladoos.
-250 grams Jaggery (Jaggery can be found at any Indian grocery store in Jacksonville)
-50 grams white sesame seeds
-1/4 cup dry shredded coconut
-1/4 cup peanuts (optional)
-1 tsp. butter
1. Roast sesame seeds over medium heat. When they turn slightly golden, remove. Roast shredded coconut till light brown. Roast peanuts.
2. Remove the skins of peanuts and crush them into small pieces.
3. In a clean, heavy-bottomed, nonstick pan, heat jaggery over medium heat. Add butter to it. After it starts bubbling and changes to light red, immediately pour in sesame seeds, coconut and peanuts and mix well. This mixture will be a little sticky and thick.
4. Rub some melted butter to the palms of your hands. While the mixture is still hot, but cool enough to touch, take some in your palm and roll into 1-inch balls. If the mixture gets cold, heat again to make the rolling easier. Make all the Ladoos and let them cool. They turn hard and crisp once cooled. Store in an airtight container.
This dessert somewhat mimics a ferrero rocher chocolate, without the thunderous calories. The honey-like sweetness of jaggery complements the earthy flavor of sesame seeds and peanuts. And I certainly felt warm on the inside after eating them. It felt like taking a bite of summer. Traditionally the Ladoos are enjoyed around a fire with popcorn.
This tale dates back thousands of years and comes from the Indian race of the Puranas. Surya (the sun) never got along with his son, Shani (planet Saturn). But, only on the day of Sankranti did Surya make it a point to visit the house of Shani, and in fact, stay with his son for a full month. The Puranas celebrated Sankranti to symbolize the special relationship of love and hate between father and son.