Amanda’s note: Here is another wonderful article by Ramya Venkateshwaran who we found writing in India from her website WildTurmeric.net. Here she provides a recipe for a popular candy in India that also helps keep you packed with iron. You know you’ve just to do your part eating your iron… 😉
These sesame seed candies, called ellu urundai, are famous in India and very healthy. In fact this is one sweet that I ask my son to eat often for its high iron content. This candy has just two ingredients: sesame seeds and jaggery (a molasses-based sugar). Both sesame seeds and jaggery are rich in iron and in other minerals and vitamins. In fact, jaggery is recommended for all anemic people in India.
These sesame seeds balls are a delicious way of consuming sesame seeds and jaggery for their wonderful health benefits. I love the crunchy taste and flavor of sesame seeds and in my home — I try to include sesame seeds as much as possible in my cooking.
As for jaggery, last year I visited a jaggery manufacturing unit near my home and saw jaggery manufacturing first-hand. It was fascinating to watch and a bit scary too because the juice was boiling at a very high temperature in open pots and the heat was intense. Jaggery is made by boiling the sugarcane juice till it thickens at high temperature. It is then poured into containers to solidify. Traditionally no chemicals are added but nowadays people dislike the dark brown color so manufactures add hydrous to get the white color in the jaggery which gives the jaggery a different taste. Always try to get good quality, organic, hydrous-free jaggery for the best taste and flavour.
As for the sesame seeds, there are two types of sesame seeds that we get in the market — one is the black sesame seeds and the other one is the white hulled sesame seeds with the outer coating removed. We use the white variety for making this sweet. I like to buy the sesame seeds in bulk and store them in my refrigerator.
This sweet can be made in a matter of minutes but like any candy recipe, the correct consistency (hard ball stage) is very important or else the candy won’t be crunchy as it is supposed to be. Using a candy thermometer will make things easier or you can test it by adding a drop of the syrup onto a plate. You should be able to form a firm ball out of it on the plate. If you add the sesame seeds before or after the required consistency, it will be either too chewy or will be very hard. Once you get to know the correct syrup consistency, making these delicious and healthy candies will be a breeze.
Sesame Candy Ingredients
- 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup jaggery (or brown sugar)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon clarified butter (or any flavorless oil)
Sesame Candy Steps
- Take a heavy-bottomed roasting pan and roast the sesame seeds until golden. When you are frying, the sesame seeds will start popping and a nice aroma will waft. Take care not to let them burn. Remove and set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat the measured jaggery along with the water, stirring to assist the jaggery in dissolving. Once the jaggery is dissolved completely, strain the mixture using a fine mesh strainer. Straining removes any impurities from jaggery.
- Heat the jaggery mixture again until it reaches a hard ball stage (250-266 degrees F or 126-128 degrees C using a candy thermometer). When the syrup reaches the desired stage, switch off immediately.
- Add the roasted sesame seeds, mix well, and switch off the flame if you have not already.
- Wait for the mixture to cool a bit and then grease your finger with little bit of clarified butter. Make candies in small rounds by pressing the balls firmly between your fingers. Use a small spoon to scoop out the mixture. It helps to make it into uniform rounds. If the mixture hardens before making it into rounds, reheat the mixture a bit and form rounds.
- Wait for the balls to cool completely and then store them in airtight jars.
This candy stores well in an airtight box and they make great gifts too.