There is definitely some sort of magic in grandmothers’ hands, that can make the plainest of foods tasty and appealing to the most finicky of eaters.
We all call my grandma as ‘Naniji’, and how ever much I try, I just can’t beat the taste of her home-made food. She is a strict vegetarian to the hilt and even the sight of an Omelette makes her scurry away from that spot. She used to allow eggs to be made by my mum and aunts in her kitchen, when we were kids and used to visit them in our Summer break. I mean, she does not even use Onions and Garlic in her cooking! Imagine that.
Yet her ‘Arhar ki dal’ (Yellow lentils) and ‘Bhindi ki sabzi’ (Okra) are the yummiest I have ever had in my life. Whenever I visit my grandparents’ house in Agra and Naniji asks me-
“Kya banaoon tere liye?” (What should I cook for you?)
My answer is always- “Yellow dal and Rice”
My sister who is a ‘Rajma’ fanatic (Tempered Kidney beans curry)..has been trying endlessly to match the taste of Naniji’s hand-cooked Rajma, but the first taste always makes her scowl and go- “Naniji jaisa nahi banta!” (Doesn’t taste like Naniji’s!)
So during my last visit, Naniji sat in front of her favorite shelf, in which she stocks her home-made goodies in timeless steel containers, and offered to me another one of her cooked snacks.
“What’s in it?” I asked, peering into the dabba.
“Til-Bugga!”, she said nudging me with the box, to hurry up and take a piece.
I gingerly picked a square and popped it in my mouth. It was sweet and it was delicious.
“What’s in it?” I asked, going for another diamond-shaped piece.
“Til and Mawa.” she said, already snapping her steel dabba shut and getting up to attend to the next chore in her mind.
Now, ‘Til’ is the Hindi name for ‘Sesame seeds’ and it is one of the ingredients that I. JUST. CANNOT. STAND. Hubby is a huge fan but I do not like it at all. You can’t convince me to take bite of a ‘Sesame seed snap’ in exchange for Fifty Euros. Maybe I will do it for a Hundred but I am sure I will gag and choke and puke the next very moment.
I remember being puzzled by the information as the sweet that I had just eaten didn’t taste that much of Til at all. If she would have told me beforehand that it contained til, I would have run out of the house and only her wringing my ears while stuffing a piece forcibly in my mouth could have achieved this feat, nothing less. It tasted creamy, dry-fruity and rich! It again made me think- how does Naniji do it?
Cut to last week, I was asking for suggestions on what should I make for the Sankranti theme on my Foodie Monday Bloghop group. Sankranti refers to the holy festival in India, that is observed in January every year. It marks the first day of sun’s transit into the Makara (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days.Any Makar Sankranti celebration is incomplete without the presence of sweet delicacies made using Sesame seeds and preferably Jaggery.
So when I asked on our family Whatsapp group- ‘What should I make for the Sankranti theme?” …One answer echoed throughout the group- “NANIJI’S TIL-BUGGA”!
I immediately called her to ask the recipe and she was very excited to share the same, along with plenty of helpful tips. The end-result turned out really good and my hubby gobbled up three pieces one after the other, as soon as we finished photographing it.
The only change I have brought in the recipe is that I had to make my own khoya/mawa as we do not get it ready-made here in Dublin. If you live in India, use the mawa bought at dairies comfortably. With ready-made Mawa, this recipe is a child’s play! Naniji didn’t tell me a specific measurement for Mawa. She just told me- “Thoda zyada hona chahiye!” (The more you use, the better!) I am guessing 100-120 grams should do the trick. If you like a more distinct sesame seeds flavor in your til-bugga that I definitely didn’t, you can reduce the quantity accordingly.
Try it friends and have sweet, blessed Monday! xx
– 75 grams white sesame seeds
– 40 grams Castor sugar
– 1/2 tsp Cardamom powder
– Some chopped Cashews and Almonds
For the home-made Khoya:
– 2 tbsn Butter
– 1/4th cup Whipped Cream
– 1/2 cup milk
– 1 cup Milk-powder
– In a heavy bottomed sauce-pan, dry-roast your sesame seeds on low flame, until they change color to light-brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
– Next, prepare your home-made khoya/mawa. In the same pan, heat and melt your butter. Keep the flame on medium-low.
– Once it melts, add your cream and keep stirring constantly.
– Once the butter and cream are well-combined, add the milk and continue stirring until it comes to a gentle boil.
– Add the milk-powder and mix to get rid of all the lumps.
– Stir until all the liquid evaporates and you are left with a thick, creamy, lump-free residue. You have to be very patient during this step and do not put the heat on high to speed up the process. This mixture has a tendency to burn very quickly. Slow and steady stirring is the only way to go!
– Transfer the Khoya to a seperate plate and let cool slightly.
– Grind your cooled sesame seeds to a fine powder in your blender.
– Let us make our final barfi mixture now! In a wide, shallow container combine your sesame seed powder, caster sugar, cardamom powder, chopped nuts and warm khoya. With your hands, mix it all together until you get a shiny and smooth uniform mixture.
– Grease a steel plate having edges with some melted ghee or butter. You can also use a flat, baking tin for the same.
– Arrange the mixture in your greased plate/tin and smoothen it into a flat, thick layer.
– Let it sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
– Cut into equal-sized bites and enjoy as a dessert or a sweet-treat!
Before you set the mixture in a greased plate, check and adjust the quantity of sugar you want in your barfi. I don’t like my desserts to be too sweet, hence I used lesser sugar than most!