Til laddu / gajak is very tasty sweet which is very good for health in winters. Til laddu are mostly made on Makar Sankranti.
Makar Sankranti is a major Hindu festival that marks the end of winter, coincides with harvest season and the start of summer. It is celebrated as Lohri in North India, Bihu in Assam, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Sankranti in Maharashtra etc. Burning of huge bonfire, prayers, dances,Haldi-Kumkum by Maharashtrian married women are some of the rituals for this festival.
Eating of sesame seeds and jaggery is considered auspicious as both provide heat and energy to the body in the winter months. Hence, Til Ladoo or Chikki is made as prasad on this day.
Add til or white sesame seeds and dry roast them for about 5 minutes with constant stirring.
The til will start changing color and crackle.
Shut off the flame and let them stand in the pan, till the jaggery gets ready.
Take the jaggery along with 2 tablespoons of water in a thick bottom pan and keep it for cooking on low flame.
Stir it continuously so that it does not burn.
In about 5 minutes, the jaggery will melt and bubbles will rise to the edges.
At this point, check the correct consistency by dropping a couple of drops of the hot jaggery in a bowl of water.
Pick it up and try to roll it.
If a soft ball is formed that holds its shape and hardens upon cooling, the jaggery is ready.
This ball on hitting a tiled wall or steel pot gives a loud click sound.
Shut off the flame and add elaichi powder, Jaiphal powder, and ghee.
Add the roasted til to the jaggery pan and whisk quickly to mix them well.
For making chikki, grease a thali with 1 teaspoon oil.
Put few tablespoons of mixture and quickly spread smooth.
Let it stand till it cools a little and then cut it with a sharp knife into squares.
Separate the pieces when they cool completely.
For making ladoos, lightly wet the palms with water and take 1 heaped teaspoon mixture and smoothen into a ball/ladoo.
If the mixture is too hot to handle, then let it cool a little.
However, if the mixture cools up completely, it will harden up.
The ladoos have to be made very quickly using all the warm mixture bit by bit.
At first, the ladoos will be soft and not hold the shape.
As they start to cool and harden, shape them again to smooth balls.
Cool them completely and then store them in an airtight steel tiffin or container.