Til Gul - A Makar Sankranti tradition

This week, we celebrated Makar Sankranti festival in our own small way. That meant making Til Gul as prasad and sharing it with each other. The daughter is just about old enough to understand about traditions and I am trying to expose her to whatever little tradition we follow. After all, these special days and special foods from childhood traditions are what warms the heart later in life.
When I was a child, Makar Sankranti was called Uttarayan (because we lived in Gujarat). All around us, there was this party atmosphere with everyone up on their terrace at the break of dawn : playing music, flying kites, cheering for the kite that cut the sharp thread of the other kite. There wasn't much cooking done that day because no one wanted to leave the party on the terrace and spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
In our house, it was different. We had the elaborate meal starring gul poli (jaggery stuffed roti) with the supporting cast of vegetable, kadhi or dal and rice, maybe a koshimbir (salad) too. Gul poli was made only once a year on this day. I, as a kid, was more excited about the food than the kite flying party. Now, I look back fondly on these traditions and how they were the high points among my childhood memories. I think that is the point of festivals : to break the routine and add some excitement (food or otherwise) in our lives.
While I am not yet ready to tackle gul poli (I am afraid my mom has set the standard so high, I doubt I could reach it soon), I have adopted the simpler tradition of Til Gul. "Til Gul ghya ani goad goad bola" (I offer you til gul and may you too speak sweetly like it) This phrase and the sharing of til gul is amusing for little kids and a reminder to the older ones to think before speaking anything rude.
I have eaten my share of til guls and nothing comes close to the family recipe that my mother uses to make til gul. The thing I love about it the most is the texture. It is firm enough to hold its shape but it has a soft and smooth mouthfeel once you bite into it. I absolutely love the addition of peanuts which provide a nice nutty contrast to the slight bitterness of sesame seeds. I prefer to use soft natural jaggery. These days I have come to realise, the less processed and darker the color of the food, the better it is for you. This less processed jaggery also has a much better flavour than the processed lighter colored jaggery.

Til Gul
The mouthfeel and the taste of this til gul is seriously addictive. Sesame seeds are not supposed to be consumed in larger quantities so we are trying to control ourselves and eat just two squares a day :) This is a very simple recipe using just 5 ingredients. You cannot beat the effort v/s taste quotient of it.

2 tsp ghee
2 cups jaggery, broken in small pieces
1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup peanuts
6 cardamom pods
  • In a heavy bottom pan, dry roast the sesame seeds on medium flame. You are looking for the seeds to turn a shade darker and smell the roasted fragrance. This is an important step so be patient and do it right. It takes about 15 minutes for this step.
  • Remove the sesame seeds and dry roast peanuts in the pan. Look for the same criteria as the sesame seeds. It will definitely not spoil the dish if you roast a little less or more but doing it right makes the difference between good and great.
  • Coarsely grind the sesame seeds and peanuts. Grind each separately to have better control over the texture.
  • Heat 2 tsp ghee in that heavy bottom pan. Add the jaggery.
  • Let it melt completely. Immediately add the coarsely ground sesame seeds and peanuts.
  • Once it is incorporated into the liquid jaggery, take it off the heat and add finely crushed cardamom seeds.
  • Grease a cookie sheet or a plate with ghee and spread the mixture in an even layer.
  • After 5 minutes, cut to make squares using a pizza cutter or knife.
  • Once completely cool and set, remove from cookie sheet and store.
They stay good for 2 weeks at room temperature.


  1. That looks wonderful, Nikita. I have a lot of jaggery on hand and would love to try your recipe.

    1. Thanks Nupur. It would be an honor if you try it :)


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