Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Celebrate Makar Sankranti with Black Sesame Delight

Makar Sankranti marks the day of the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn and is the beginning of Uttaraayan. It is also a harvest festival and marks the beginning of spring and is so celebrated across states in India. Bonfires and kite flying are some of the rituals followed on Makar Sankranti. Across India, sweets are made using sesame seeds, sugar, jaggery, flour, rice, coconut, etc.
In celebration, I decided to make something with black sesame seeds. I was inspired to make this dessert after watching the TV show, The Chef and his Better Half. I switched to this show very late and could only catch the part where the seeds were ground to a paste and the resultant drink/dessert was a grey black color. Personally, I did not know of any dish which was of this color, so naturally I wanted to try something on those lines. Without any recipe to go by, internet was the only source and there I learned that black sesame is used in desserts made in East Asia. So after checking different recipes I learnt that some flour is usually used to arrive at a thickish consistency, coconut milk was another option and the nuts was an Indian touch.
My Black Sesame Delight is a sweet dish with the consistency of porridge and should be had warm. It is mildly sweet with a distinctive nutty taste from the sesame seeds and looks like dark chocolate sauce and not the grey black I thought I may get. This warm dessert with a smooth consistency slips down the throat so easily and is nice to have on a winter day. After having some, I couldn’t keep away and kept dipping my spoon into the pan and by end of day had scraped it clean.
Without any more delay, here goes my recipe for Sesame Delight.
Black Sesame seeds – 5 tsp
Rice flour – 7 tsp
Almonds – 10 to 12
Coconut milk – ¼ cup
Sugar – 8 tbsp
Heat a pan and lightly toast the sesame seeds on low heat. The seeds will start popping, continue toasting for a few more minutes and take off the heat. Grind the sesame seeds and the almonds with a little water to a fine paste. It is alright to add more water if required.
Heat the pan and add a cup of water and add the rice flour to it. Mix well so there are no lumps. Add the sesame and almond paste and stir till it starts bubbling. The mix should be a thick pourable consistency add water if necessary to loosen it a little. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the pan where the rice and sesame mix congeals. Lower the heat and add the sugar and stir till it is mixed in.
Once the sugar has mixed in completely and it starts bubbling again, pour in the coconut milk and stir till completely mixed in.
As it cools the mixture tends to thicken so make sure the consistency is only just thick when taking off the heat. Take the Sesame Delight off the stove and let it cool to a warm temperature. Serve in bowls topped with slivers of nuts.

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