A Til Ka Ladoo Variation {S for Sesame Seeds}

I like the challenge of trying different things and wondering whether it’s going to work or whether I’m going to fall flat on my face.

– Johnny Depp

I recently saw this video called Trying something new for 30 days by Matt Cutts. He urges us to set 30 day goals to challenge ourselves to try new things. We will be amazed at how many new things we will do in our lives.

So I thought, what new things can I do every 30 days? Apart from thinking up big amazing things once in a while, I realised that with Shanna from Curls and Carrots, we have already established the activity of cooking up something new every 30 days with our monthly ingredient challenge.

This month we reached the letter S and thought up sesame seeds. Check out Shanna’s Light Black Sesame and Pear Tea Cake. Shanna made a recipe that takes up time and hard work, but the results were definitely worth it and enjoyed by her family.

Myself, after having no clue what I’d do with sesame seeds, I decided to make til ka ladoo, an Indian recipe which are sweet sesame seed balls. This was quite a challenge because I don’t really know much about Indian cooking, plus I’m quite terrible at faithfully following recipes.

I read various recipes and found this easy looking recipe along with the help of this video in Majula’s kitchen. Majula seemed lovely and her nearly six minute video seemed really easy. She said it is simple. I jotted down the ingredients.

Going out looking for the ingredients was a bit of an adventure as I had no idea where I would find ghee (clarified butter) nor jaggery (uncentrifuged palm sugar) in Barcelona. I went to my usual Oriental ingredient shop hoping for the best, and found them there. Great!

On a rainy Sunday evening I set about making my til ka ladoos. I quickly realised I would have to make a Sofia variation as usual, because the recipe called for cardamom, and I didn’t have any. Being a Sunday afternoon in a neighbourhood of Barcelona where nothing is open at that time, and with heavy rain, I was not about to venture out in case I found a shop open with cardamom – which is not a common Spanish spice anyway. I decided that my til ka ladoos would thus be vanilla and cinnamon flavoured.

I cooked all the ingredients together. Then the time came to shaping the balls. Simple? Not for me it seems. As with Johnny Depp’s quote above, I nearly thought I would fall flat on my face with these. But the photos are proof that I made my sesame seed balls. In the end, I must say that they are great and I really have to stop myself from snacking on them all day long.


Sesame seed balls


500g sesame seeds

500g jaggery

3 tablespoons ghee

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Roast the sesame seeds in a big wok until they become a golden brown colour. Remove from the wok.

Add water and the jaggery, broken into pieces, into the wok. Cook with medium heat until it all dissolves and cook for about 5 minutes. Don’t let it caramelise too much, otherwise it will be quite hard to work with later on. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and a touch of salt. Cook and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the sesame seeds and cook for another minute.

Turn off the heat. Let it cool. When it’s cool enough to touch, shape into balls.

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  1. Sunny 2014-02-19 at 00:35

    This reminds me of something in Chinese cooking! We have these balls with red bean paste and sticky rice. They are deep-fried and coated with sesame! Not the most healthy thing you can eat, but ahhh yum!

    1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 09:34

      I really like those Chinese balls and thought about making them too! But seemed quite complicated, lol,…

    1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 09:35

      Thanks Sonal!

  2. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2014-02-19 at 01:39

    Wow, they look yummy! And what the heck is jaggery? Of course, you know I will google it…but I await your explanation!

    1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 09:36

      Its a sort of unrefined palm sugar, it comes in big pieces (not granulated). I think it might be healthier than normal sugar, what I can say when I tried it while I was cooking is that it’s very sweet! I had to look up jaggery too when I was going to make the recipe 🙂

  3. Sylvia @superfoodista.com 2014-02-19 at 02:21

    Love this recipe!! Also love it involves so few ingredients!! Simple, beautiful and yummy!! And so cool to discover two new ingredients, ghee and jaggery, very interesting!! jaggery could be a healthy sweetener alternative since it’s palm sugar too? I am going to read about this! 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 10:04

      With what I’ve read I think it is healthier (but can’t say with 100% certainty), and it’s very sweet too! Haha I have to say I discovered ghee and jaggery through making this 😉 Ghee is quite interesting, I don’t really like the smell before it’s cooked -very strong, but while used for cooking it becomes a nuttier smell. It also has a smoking temperature that’s higher than butter, so its a great substitute, for example, to line the pan when making pancakes. I still have to try it myself and see how it goes…

  4. Priya Kedlaya 2014-02-19 at 04:49

    I love love til laddu! 🙂 And I think you’ve come up with a fantastic version with vanilla and cinnamon… fusion fun! I think I might try your version sometime! 🙂

    1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 09:37

      Hey thanks Priya, I like how the fusion turned out, it tastes sort of like a caramel fudge with sesame seeds 🙂

  5. Mabel Kwong 2014-02-19 at 06:04

    This reminds me of Chinese sesame seed balls. They are sweet and they were always served as dessert after big banquets in Malaysia. They tend to be made of out glutinous rice flour. The Til Ka Ladoo you made looks crunchy…but I think it’s soft? 🙂

    1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 09:38

      Ye, these are crunchy! I love the Chinese sesame seed balls and want to try making them too one day 🙂

      1. Mabel Kwong 2014-02-19 at 10:04

        That reminds me of another Chinese dessert – Chinese pancakes (see http://ow.ly/tLVVs). The ones I grew up eating in Malaysia are thin and crunchy, but here in Australia they make them thick and flaky :/

        1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 10:05

          Whether thin and crunchy or thick and flaky, they look good 🙂

  6. Helen @ Scrummy Lane 2014-02-19 at 06:10

    I’m wondering what jaggery is too, but I’m guessing though that these balls end up all caramelly and lovely …. they look wonderful! I’m really impressed that you challenged yourself to make something totally different like this … and finding the ingredients when you’re away from home is no small thing (I definitely know all about that!)

    1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 09:40

      Yeah they are crunchy and caramelly 🙂 Finding any kind of non-Spanish ingredient here is usually a challenge. Once you’ve found THE SHOP where it is, it’s fine, but till then you don’t know if you’ll be able to make the recipe. xx

    1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 09:41

      Maybe they are savoury little fish balls in another language!..

    1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 17:30

      Those must have tasted awesome!

  7. cruzccc 2014-02-19 at 16:30

    Qué buena pinta Sofia y con lo que me gustan las semillas de sésamo, además son sanísimas 🙂
    Un besito guapa y feliz día!

    1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 17:29

      Creo que la semillas sanísimas compensan el mucho azucar que llevan 😉 Un besito y feliz día para ti también!

  8. Amanda 2014-02-19 at 19:10

    Wow. Kudos to you for going out of your comfort zone. These look delicious. Indian desserts are particularly yummy and I’d like to try my hand at some myself! Well done!

    1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 22:07

      Hi Amanda, you got it, Indian food is in my comfort zone in terms of eating, but outside in terms of cooking. How about you, I know you have cooked Indian dishes!

      1. Amanda 2014-02-19 at 22:11

        Aw sweet of you to look up my saag paneer. It’s the only indian thing I’ve attempted on the blog, but I do a few Pakistani dishes, as my brother in law is Pakistani. I do a keema and an Indian lamb korma. You’ve inspired me to maybe start it up again!

        1. Sofia 2014-02-19 at 22:12

          Really? You should get recipe ideas from him! xx

  9. Karen 2014-02-19 at 23:20

    The little sesame balls sound like they would be very good. I don’t think I would be as lucky as you finding jaggery in rural New Hampshire. 🙂

    1. Sofia 2014-02-20 at 09:06

      You might be lucky to find it, I wasn’t sure I was going to find it here either! Cheers Karen!

  10. dedy oktavianus pardede 2014-02-20 at 09:27

    I guess i’ll giving this recipe a shoots once i gat a chance to handle the jaggery

    1. Sofia 2014-02-20 at 09:38

      It’s tricky! Good luck if you do 🙂

  11. Dalo 2013 2014-02-20 at 18:54

    With so few ingredients the recipe looks easy, but the process and looking at the final product… complex 🙂

    The Depp quote to open the post is fantastic, always good to take to heart at times in life. Especially, I think, when it comes to cooking ~ or anything you really enjoy.

    1. Sofia 2014-02-20 at 20:22

      Thats what I thought: easy! But noooo. I ended up with sesame seeds all over the kitchen and myself, it was hot to touch, and whatever was not hot to touch was beginning to get to hard for me to handle. But I made it and they taste great!! The lovely Indian lady must have made this at least 50 times in her life to make it look so easy..
      Yeah, the quote is great, do you apply it?

      1. Dalo 2013 2014-02-20 at 21:56

        The quote is perfect, I’ve fallen flat on my face a few times…always good to look upon such chaos a few years afterwards (not at the time). Your description of the recipe, the roasting/carmelizing…spelt danger for me. Ha, ha, I’ll just pick some up at the bakery.

        1. Sofia 2014-02-20 at 22:51

          Thats right, such chaos may not be great at the time, but sometimes gives a good laugh afterwards,
          Yes to the bakery! Even though I can’t stop eating these, I am not going to attempt to make them ever again..

  12. Namrata 2014-02-21 at 04:58

    Wow, you have done a fantastic job.

    1. Sofia 2014-02-21 at 09:04

      Thanks Namrata! 🙂

  13. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward 2014-02-21 at 19:09

    Sofia, I loved reading about your adventures in Barcelona finding the ingredients for the til ka ladoo sesame balls. You have a wonderful writing voice! These look so tasty. I hope that you can find some cardamom at some point… it is one of my very favorite flavors and great in any sweet treat recipe. Smart to use cinnamon in its place. I will have to find ghee and jaggery, but I would love to try this. Another Indian dessert I love is almond burfi… in case you have any leftover ghee. 😉 I will post my sesame recipe in the coming days, Amiga! Besos!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-02-21 at 19:15

      Thanks Shanna, you’re so sweet 🙂 Gosh these were quite tough work, not that they took ages to make (as I heard about your recipe) but a lot of muscle work and messiness. I don’t know how the Indian lady I saw in the video manages to do it so gracefully. I do have leftover ghee and had no idea what to do with it, so thanks for the suggestion. Besos!!

  14. Pingback: Black Sesame and Pear Tea Cake (Light) | CURLS AND CARROTS

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