Monthly Archives: November 2018

My love for nutty jaggery brittles- 1. Ellu Mittai/Sesame Seed Brittles

Brittle is a type of confection consisting of flat broken pieces of hard sugar candy embedded with nuts such as pecans, almonds, or peanuts.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brittle_(food)

 As per the above definition, normal brittles are made with sugar and water, mostly white sugar. 

Traditional indian brittles are made with jaggery. Hence, are a combination of health and taste. Kadalai urundai (peanut jaggery balls)/ ellu urundai (sesame jaggery balls)/ pori urundai (puffed rice balls)/ pottukadalai urundai (roasted bengalgram balls) are common combinations made with  jaggery syrup brought down to hard ball consistency.

Urundais are sweet balls, but the less time consuming version is the Mittai – Brittles. Kadalai Mittai and Ellu Mittai are squared brittles. When was the word ‘Mittai’ included in Tamil vocabulary is a matter for research.  Before the concept of urundais or sweet balls came into making, the kitchen guardians must have powdered the nut and jaggery in the ural -mortar and enjoyed the marriage of sweet-nutty flavour.

Making sweet balls or bars involve perfect string consistency of jaggery syrup. After continuous efforts, off-late my nut brittles are almost good. Before I got the right consistency to harden the syrup to be perfectly crispy , we used to munch chewy candies. The sticky  chewy candies were equally a joyous endeavour in the mouth…. reluctant to leave the teeth. 

I shall be ever grateful to my daughter and husband, who never hesitated to pull the chewy candy from teeth to tongue. It is because of their patience, that I have reached this stage, making crispy brittles.

For the recipe, as usual, chukku podi/dry ginger powder for easy digestion and elakkai podi/cardamom powder for flavour have been added.

These are a few brittles that I’ve tried …

  • Ellu Mittai/Sesame Brittle
  • Kadalai Mittai/Peanut Brittle
  • Dry fruit Mittai/Brittle

Let’s handle them one by one.

Ellu Mittai/Sesame Seed Brittle

Ingredients

  • ellu/sesame Seeds – 1 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – 3/4 cup
  • thanneer/water – 1/4 cup
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. I used white sesame seeds. Dry roast sesame seeds until golden brown and crispy
  2. Grease a plate for spreading the done mixture later
  3. Heat a pan, and let jaggery melt in water
  4. Strain the jaggery water in a clean hard bottomed pan.
  5. Add dry ginger powder and cardamom powder. Let it boil
  6. When the syrup reaches hard ball consistency – when you drop a little syrup in cold water, it should form a hard ball – switch off stove and add the roasted sesame seeds
  7. Mix well and immediately spread on the greased plate
  8. Level the presently sticky mixture and cut into squares with a sharp knife. 
  9. Remove pieces once it is cooled.
  10. Store in air tight container and relish the goodness of ths healthy brittle.

The Good Fat Black Ball

Whatever the title makes you comprehend, I am here to clarify. 

Nowadays we hear people say – ’40 is the new 20′. Times are changing and we seem to ‘age’ slower with advanced medical facilities, anti-aging feel-good slogans and social media messages.  In contrast, children less than 15 are falling prey to life style diseases, which used to be post-middle age illnesses.

The classification as middle age illness or old age disease doesn’t hold good anymore. Anyone gets it anytime. While 40 seems to look like the new 20…. is 20 the new 40?? Kind of role reversal here? The reasons for this contrast may be varied. But, as a food blogger and believer in providing healthy food to the family, my focus is on a few factors- primary being  ‘Choice of Foods and Ingredients’.

We all seem to be living in ‘DANGER ZONE’ amidst junk food outlets and super markets  with evil jaws inviting us into the harsh and tragic world of dangerous health hazards.  Making better choices is something written and preached about for a long time. It is not enough if we just understood better choices – but its high time  ‘making right choices’ an important part of our life style.

With ‘making right choices’ comes the most important ingredient of our culinary indulgences – ‘FAT’. Everyone is talking about Good Fat and Bad Fat – understanding FAT has become an essential element in averting several health related disasters.

While our diet needs to be balanced with all necessary components, why say NO to Fats? 

A few of the noticeable consequences of ‘Say No to Fats’ theory, according to me are-

  • Margarine replaced Butter
  • Refined oils that boast to protect your heart replaced Cold pressed Oils 
  • Low fat fruit yoghurts (the added sugar went unnoticed) replaced Plain Natural home made Yoghurt 
  • Canned/bottled Fresh juices most of which hide the added sugar replaced Fresh fruits
  • Diet drinks with added Aspartame and Aerated drinks replaced freshly squeezed juices
  • Brown bread in varied Avatars (whole meal, multi grain etc. ) with very little reduction of white flour replaced white bread which itself substituted indigenous grains decades ago

These are only a few to be named… the list is longer.

Unknowingly, we as a whole generation have fallen prey to many misconceptions and unclear theories. While I am neither a dietician nor a physician to guide my readers, I only know for sure that Not all Fats are Bad. It is quintessesntial to understand the differences between Good Fat and Bad Fat. 

I am not attempting to write a post of Good Fats and Bad Fats… internet is bloated up with information on this. Please read those carefully. Nor am I trying to justify indulging in sweets. This is a humble post to encourage using better ingredients for indulgence too.

Now, understanding Good Fats and Bad Fats would let us make Right Choices. Making Right Choices is the Core.  This by itself would bring in a huge Positive Life Style Change.

As sweets/desserts are major contributors to Fat, I chose to introduce this Urundai/Sweet Ball with better choice of ingredients.

When it comes to desserts, I have realised, traditional sweets of any culture with the choicest of unrefined ingredients, eaten in moderation cannot be hazardous.  If your physician has adviced you to stop any kinds of sugar, then this recipe is not for you, but the post is for everyone aiming at a healthy life style.

So, for the benefit of all sweet toothed members of the household, in consideration of the FAT intake of my family, I say NO to these –

  • white sugar
  • white flour
  • margarine

and replace with unrefined cane sugar, jaggery, mollases or palm sugar;  substitute white flour with milled wheat flour and use clarified butter, which is medicinal instead of margarine.

I cut down my Bad Fats  and  include Good Fats such as nuts and oily seeds. These are simple changes made to bring out different nutritious combinations. 

Atlast, I have arrived at the reason for naming the Sweet Ball that I made for Deepavali. The GOOD FAT BLACK BALL has ingredients with Poly unsaturated Fats – Sesame seeds and Flax Seeds – which are Good Fats. White sugar has been replaced with unrefined cane sugar.  Very little clarified butter has been used for binding them into urundai. Cardamom powder for flavour and dry ginger powder for digestion. 

Benefits of the ingredients

Aalli Vidhai/Flax Seeds

Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s. Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed#1

Ellu/Sesame Seeds

Not only are sesame seeds an excellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber. In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=84

Naattu Sarkkarai/ unrefined cane sugar/powdered jaggery

It activates the digestive enzymes in our body, thus helps in proper digestion of food.  It acts as a detox, as it helps cleanse the liver by flushing out nasty toxins from the body. Jaggery is loaded with antioxidants and minerals like zinc and selenium, which help prevent free-radicals (responsible for early ageing). It helps boost resistance against infections, hence building stronger immunity.  
www.indiatoday.in/benefits-of-eating-jaggery


This is certainly a guilt free sweet. Please have in moderation.

THE GOOD FAT BLACK BALL

Ingredients (makes 22-25 urundais)

  • ellu/sesame seeds – 100 gms – 1 cup
  • aalli vidhai/flax seeds – 100 gms – 1cup
  • naattu sarkkarai/unrefined cane sugar – 50 gms
  • nei/clarified butter – 2 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • chukka podi/dry ginger powder –  1 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. Dry roast sesame seeds and flax seeds separately till crispy

2. Cool both and blend well  with cane sugar, cardamom and dry ginger powder into a fine powder

3. Transfer into a bowl

4. The oil in both the seeds would make the powder greasy. That is why, very little clarified butter is used to bind

5. Heat clarified butter and pour inside the blended powder

6. Make medium sized balls 

7. Store in air tight container. It lasted well for over two weeks.

8. I preferred using black sesame seeds, but white sesame was available at home. Use as per preference.