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Til Chikki – Indian Sesame Brittle for Makar Sankranti

A hand reaching to take a piece of Til Chikki on a black plate

Happy Makar Sankranti! Today I’m sharing the recipe for Til Chikki, also known as Til Patti, Tilgul, or Til Gajak. It’s a mouthwatering sweet snack which is specifically made in the Winter season to warm the body and provide energy, with a super sweet story behind it!

Til Chikki is an Indian traditional sweet which is very similar to sesame brittle. With a base of sugar or jaggery, the only other major ingredient is delicious and nutty sesame seeds. It has a crisp texture with just the slightest amount of lovely stickiness inside. Chikki made from all sorts of nuts from peanuts, cashews, almonds, and even flax seeds are popular in India. Despite this, Til (sesame) Chikki is easily the most loved!

In my partners state of Maharashtra, Til Chikki are given to celebrate the festival of Makar Sankranti (more information below). Young children will go from house to house collecting sweets, and people will greet each other with the saying: “तिळगुळ घ्या, आणि गोड-गोड बोला  (Tilgul ghya, ani god-god bola)” which roughly translates to “Accept this tilgul and speak sweet-sweet!”. The meaning behind this phrase is that with the giving of Til Chikki comes forgiveness, understanding and kindness. It is said that just as sweetness binds the sesame in the Til Chikki together, so should sweetness bind your own relationships together.

And with that – accept this Tilgul and speak sweetly!

What is the festival of Makar Sankranti?

Makar Sankranti is known by different names in the different states of India (including Thai Pongal, Maghi & Lohri, Uttarayan, and many more), but each follows similar yet distinct customs to celebrate the festival. As Makar Sankranti is one of the few Hindu festivals that is dictated by the Solar calendar as opposed to the Lunar calendar, the date falls on the same day every year – either the 14th or 15 of January. This is because the festival is dedicated to the Hindu, Buddhist & Jain deity named Surya, meaning Sun.

The festival marks the end of the Winter season and celebrates the length of day and night becoming equal once more. In India this also indicates the end of the harvest season when farmers can finally revel in their hard work and spend more time with family, enjoying the bounty and prosperity from their hard work.

This festive period actually spreads over 3 days, with each day having a different individual celebration. Small children will fly kites, while adults will bathe in sesame oil. Spreading sesame oil on the body gives warmth to the body during this cold weather – as does wearing black, with this festival being the one one where it’s auspicious to wear this colour. They will also give small gifts, and visit each others houses to exchange Tilgul Ladoo and Til Chikki.

Can you use Sugar or Jaggery for Til Chikki?

I have made these Til Chikki with Sugar as it’s more commonly available to us and the taste is fantastic! However, if you would like you can easily substitute the white sugar which I’ve used in this recipe for equal amounts of Light Brown Sugar or Jaggery.

Jaggery is the traditional choice of Til Chikki as it lends a beautiful flavour and more importantly was historically a lot cheaper and more commonly available for people to use in cooking. Maharashtra – the state where these gorgeous sesame sweets come from – is still the biggest producer of Jaggery to this day, where it’s used in anything from curries, dals, and desserts.

If you would like to try using Jaggery in this recipe as opposed to sugar, there are a few extra steps you need to take. First, try to purchase a pure organic Jaggery without impurities (otherwise you will need to filter those impurities). This is a good source. When you make the jaggery syrup, cook on low heat until the jaggery melts, turns a lighter colour, becomes glossy, and thickens. You can tell the jaggery has reached the right stage by dropping a piece into a cold glass of water. If the jaggery forms a solid ball, it’s ready to add the sesame seeds – if it mixes with the water, cook the syrup for more time.

This Recipe is …

  • Traditional & Authentic
  • Simple 4 ingredients recipe
  • Easily adapted to be Vegan
  • Gluten Free!

If you’re interested in more festive dessert recipes for Diwali or other occasions, check out these: Bengali Rasgulla, soft and spongy balls in a sweet cardamon and saffron sugar syrup; this simple and instant Aamrakhand – sweetened yoghurt with mango; and Sevai Kheer, a Marathi recipe for vermicelli noodles cooked in a thick, sweet milk flavoured with rose

A hand holding up a piece of Maharashtrian Til Chikki topped with pistachios and rose petals

Til Chikki - Indian Sesame Brittle for Makar Sankranti

Yield: 12 Small Chikki
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Maharashtrian Sesame Brittle/Snaps. They are a traditional treat especially for this Makar Sankranti, although delicious all throughout the winter season.

Instructions

  1. Prepare your workplace in advance. Grease a section of your worktop or prepare greaseproof paper. This will be for later when you need to cool the Til Chikki.
  2. Begin by toasting the sesame seeds. Place the sesame seeds in a medium sized non-stick frying pan over low heat. Cook for around 2 minutes, shaking occasionally, until they smell aromatic. You don’t want to brown the sesame seeds, just toast them gently. Once done empty them into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Now melt the sugar. Turn the heat to medium and in the same saucepan add the sugar. Cook gently, stirring minimally, until the sugar has melted and is no longer grainy. At this stage immediately add the ghee (optional) and salt. Stir thoroughly and immediately add the toasted sesame seeds. Mix until the sesame seeds are totally incorporated and turn off the heat.
  4. Moving as fast as possible, tip the Til Chikki mixture onto the greaseproof paper or greased surface. Using a silicone spatula or greased utensil, gently push it into a square/rectangle shape and smoothen down the surface. After a few minutes has passed, make a small cut to mark out the shape of the Til Chikki.
  5. When the Til Chikki is cool you can either cut them into shape along the marked lines or carefully snap them.

Did you make this recipe?

Please post a photo on Instagram and tag @ohmyvegofficial! Alternatively, leave a review & comment on my blog 💚

How do you store Til Chikki?

Til Chikki will last for around a month as long as they’re stored in an airtight container. There’s no need to refrigerate, just keep in a cupboard or similar storage place. However, I absolutely guarentee that they won’t last long! They make wonderful snacks for when you get peckish and are delightfully addictive.

How to adjust the recipe to make more or less Til Chikki?

It’s really easy to scale this recipe up or down – you just need to make sure the ratio of Sesame to Sugar stays the same. You can half, double or even triple the ingredients and follow exactly the same method – just bare in mind that timings will differ depending on how much you make.

If you make this recipe or have any questions, let me know!

As always, if you have any questions about the recipe please feel free to comment them down below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. If you made this recipe, please do share it with me! I would love to see the results. You can tag me on instagram using @ohmyvegofficial or send to me via any of my other social media channels.

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