Remember the sesame brittle candies wrapped in clear twisted plastic..often found at the check-out counter? These sesame honey balls from Divya Alter’s cookbook, What to Eat for How You Feel remind me of them. But without the sticky fingers and teeth.
Since the beginning of winter, I’ve been wanting to make sesame “candies” from scratch. They’re the perfect, nourishing winter treat. Rich in immunity-boosting nutrients, healthy fat, anti-oxidants, and minerals. With a warming energy to balance with the cold season. Sometimes, it’s hard to wrap my mind around how a yummy “candy” can also be nutritious.
Traditionally, sesame “candies” are made in the cold season. Often in the form of a laddu (ball) or as brittle (I love the diamond-shaped versions). Instead of honey or refined sugarcane, South Asian recipes most often call for jaggery, an unrefined sweetener that comes from sugarcane. It’s often given to kids melted on a chapati with ghee for their iron and mineral content. A snack after my own heart. Jaggery is also used in nuts and seeds based spiced treats made specifically for women, post childbirth. To foster strengthen, nourish and re-build immunity or ojas—kapha qualities.
The process to make sesame brittle with jaggery requires some fast working hands and temperature regulation. What’s nice about Divya’s recipe is that neither is required. Aside from the texture, and gooey factor, these sesame honey balls taste very similar to the sesame candies/brittle, I love so much. Without comprising the nutrients. Yes and Yes.
Instead of jaggery, Divya’s recipe calls for raw honey. Like jaggery, honey is also warming and considered to be a cold season food. Along with it’s immune boosting nutrients, honey’s drying qualities can help prevent mucus and colds. A recommended sweetener for kapha dosha, Ayurveda also considers honey to be medicinal. Combined with ginger, turmeric, and other heating spices, it can further support kapha imbalances, like congestion. By counterbalancing the cold, wet, moist and sticky qualities of phlegm and mucus.
Finding new ways to get raw, unheated honey into my diet throughout the winter season is always rewarding. Although, I am not beneath eating a couple spoonfuls straight from the jar. It’s nice to have a variety of seasonal options. These sesame honey balls were this seasons find. A treat, snack or dessert, they do the body-mind good. Generating internal warmth, boosting immunity to prep for the seasonal shift, giving skin that summer glow, and helping to ground restless vata dosha. Not to mention the dose of healthy fat, antioxidants, minerals and immune-boosting nutrients.
Basically, a sweet, nourishing, balanced, and delicious food-based, sattva vitamin—made, especially for the winter season. When eaten in moderation…(reminder to self). Now on to make my next batch.
Happy eating. Happy digesting.
Sesame Honey Ladoos (Balls)
Sesame Honey Balls
Dosha: VPK Season: Late Fall, Winter Qualities: Heavy, Oily, Moist Tastes: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Astringent, Bitter Servings: 6-12 What you need: a zester, food processor
- 1/2 cup + 2T sesame seeds (hulled/white)
- 2/3 cup almond meal/flour (blanched almonds) or the pulp from making almond milk
- 3/4 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp lime or orange zest (optional)
- pinch of Himalayan salt*
- 1/4 cup raw honey* (local if available)
1.In a small skillet or sesame toaster, dry roast the sesame seeds over medium-low heat until lightly tan in color. Shake or stir frequently so not to burn and for even roasting. About 3 minutes or so.
2. In a food processor, (I used a Nutribullet—be careful not to turn it into tahini!) Grind the seeds (remove the 2T for the finishing touches) into a gritty powder. If using almond pulp versus flour add in the pulp as well. You can also add the cardamom, vanilla, salt, and zest at this time or after transferring it to the mixing bowl—since I used a Nutribullet, I mixed the spices in after transferring.
3. Transfer the ground sesame seed to a mixing bowl, if using almond flour/meal, mix it in at this time. Along with the spices, if they were not added in earlier. Once the dry ingredients are mixed together, slowly mix in the honey. Keep mixing it with a spoon, until it is all incorporated. Its take a little bit of time to get a sticky consistency so the ball shape will hold up. I found a 1/4 of honey to be the perfect amount. You may want to add the honey in batches as more or less could be required for your batch.
4. With your hands, roll about a heaping teaspoon of the mixture into 1-inch balls. I thought my hands would be sticky from the honey, but that wasn’t the case. You can also rub your hands with a little ghee or coconut oil prior to making the balls.
5. Once you have about 12 rolled balls, coat them in the remaining 2T of toasted sesame seeds and serve. I did this on the chopping board. Using a small bowl is another option.
Store in a covered container for up to 5 days in a cool spot away from the direct sun.
- Sesame seeds are not compatible with the digestive process when served with milk or eggs.
- The recipe does not call for salt, but I like to add a pinch to balance the sweetness
- Divya recommends crystallized honey. I didn’t have any and found runny honey to work perfectly
- Cinnamon is a good seasonal substitute for cardamom or even nutmeg. If using nutmeg reduce quantity as nutmeg is strong and very heating. Or combine all 3 spices for variation
- If you are experiencing any pitta imbalances, like excess heat in the body, enjoy this treat as a “once in a while” snack
- I’ve also very lightly toasted the cardamom to ‘freshen’ it up a bit. Same can be done with almond flour.