Kale til ka tilkut (black sesame and jaggery balls) was an annual affair in my home and how eagerly we used to wait for it. This kale til ka tilkut is traditionally made for a festival called Sankashti Chaturthi, Sakat Chaturthi or Sankashti Ganesh Chaturthi which comes in January and the tilkut or til modak is offered as prasad to Ganeshji.
It is considered that Ganeshji makes one free of all sankat (bad times) if you do this puja. Sankashti Chaturthi this year (2017) falls on 15th of January.
None of us siblings were ever interested in any sorts of puja but as soon as we would get a whiff of the kale til ka tilkut being made we used to get hungry just for this.
Making this kale til ka tilkut used to be a whole day affair. My mother used to wash and clean the black sesame seeds, then sun dry it a couple of days ahead of Sakat Chaturthi when she used to fast the whole day.
On the day of puja she would pound the black sesame seeds in the huge iron mortar and pestle, once the sesame seeds were almost powdered she will add jaggery and ginger to the same mortar and pestle and pound some more, till the mixture starts coming together like a sticky ball. The mixture was empties in a wide thali later and mixed with ghee before shaping it into small balls of tilkut. This special tilkut remains quite sticky because raw jagerry melts while it is pounded along with black sesame that releases some oil, then some ghee is also added. But the specialty if the kale til ka tilkut is this stickiness that makes the balls get shapeless by the time puja is done and we get prasad.
How wonderful such prasad traditions are. Even if these traditions are followed only once a year they make sure people keep believing in eating these seasonal ingredients every year. Black sesame, jaggery, ginger and ghee together make a great combination of nutrients just right for winters. This tilkut is great remedy for joint inflammations in elderly and great nourishing food for growing kids.
No one seems to be making these old recipes now as they take too much time or may be no one likes these kind of foods any more? I am not sure because whenever I share these with someone they always seem to love these kind of foods.
Well, I made the recipe of the tilkut simpler. Actually I could have made it simpler in those days too as we used to help mother pound it all in the mortar and pestle back then but the whole affair of doing things on a slow pace had a charm in that big family of ours.
Now I can't think of finding so much time to do things on slow pace. So I took an hour or so to make these kale til ke tilkut this year to revive my memories of that forgotten taste. Yes I took the help of my trusted mixie.
300 gm black sesame cleaned
450 gm jaggery chopped or grated
75 gm fresh ginger grated
2 tbsp or 60 gm ghee
Sun dry the sesame seeds completely or heat them up in the oven. To heat them in the oven just spread on a baking tray and heat it for 10 minutes at 200 C. Alternately dry roast in a thick base kadhai for 5 minutes. Cool down before processing in the mixie.
Empty the sesame in a large mixie jar. It is better to work in 2 batches if you have a small jar.
Grind the sesame till powdered. Add the chopped jaggery and grated ginger and pulse the mixie at shot intervals till everything mixes well. Add ghee and pulse one more time to mix.
Some bits of jaggery and ghee are desired in this mix.
Scoop out from the mixie jar and shape balls. These will be very soft balls and loose shape if kept together. But the tilkut balls get harder the next day as the temperature in winters is quite cold.
It is advisable to store these tilkut modaks in one layer so I used a two tier steel dabba for storage.
This tilkut was such a favourite of all of us that we used to get upset stomach after sakat chaturthi almost every year. For some reason I couldn't eat more than one tilkut when I made this batch. There is no fun eating such things alone, a family full of siblings is a thing to cherish.