It’s that time of the year when the mind begins to wander along the lanes of nostalgia. It is spring and spring is the heralder of the Assamese new year. Yes, today is the first day of the month of Bohag, the first month of the Assamese calendar. It is a time for celebration and merriment, of singing and dancing, to usher in the new and ring out the old.
Bihu is the cultural festival of the Assamese and all the three types of Bihu( Bohag, Magh and Kati) are all woven around agriculture in some way. Bohag/Rongali Bihu is celebrated to welcome spring and the new year. It is that time of the year when the fields are prepared for cultivation and a sense of merriment prevails.
Unlike last year, the weather this year in our neck of the woods has brought in lots of sunshine and bright skies. Yes, the brightness and the long days have been such a treat; I just hope they continue. And all these lovely spring days does put a spring in ones step and I set about recreating one of the treats made during this time. I love making larus/laddoos (ball shaped sweet treats) and probably find them therapeutic, not to mention the flood gates of happy memories that they bring. Last year, I made these easy coconut larus/laddoos.
Tilor laro/Sesame seed laddoos( ball shaped sweets made with sesame seeds) are an important part of the Bihu platter.
Made by ma during Bihu, with just two ingredients, and a lot of love, they made their way into my mouth a little too frequently. Scenes of ma rolling out the balls with great speed and accuracy, of course, after having all those years of practice, have been playing on my mind recently. So I set about to make them. Back in assam, these larus are made with black sesame seeds, but I used brown sesame seeds as I had some left over. Of course, my numbers of larus were much smaller than ma’s as it’s just me and the hubs to plough through them. Having said that, I did see the daughter helping herself to a couple of them as well.
Here’s how I made them-
1C of jaggery ( I chopped some from a block) mixed with 1 and a 1/2 tblsp of water in a small saucepan.
2C of brown sesame seeds ( black and other types of sesame seeds can be used too)
- Roast the sesame seeds on a pan over low heat. Stir constantly to prevent browning. When the seeds start to splutter, and the seeds start to leave their aroma, remove from heat.
- Let the roasted seeds cool for a few minutes and then grind them just a little to form a coarse mixture.
- Transfer to a bowl.
- Place the saucepan containg the jaggery over low heat and stir constantly, scraping the sides, till the jaggery melts completely. Bring to a boil for a few seconds and then remove from heat.
- Make a well in the centre of the ground seeds and pour in the melted jaggery. Be careful as the jaggery will be quite hot.
- Using, preferably, a wooden spoon, mix together the seeds and the jaggery. It will form a sticky mixture.
- Now, with slightly damp hands, form tight balls of the mixture. Work quickly through the mixture, as it will harden. The size of my larus were just a little smalller than a walnut and I managed to get 24 larus.
Some other Bihu specialities-
And here’s wishing all my fellow Assamese, whichever part of the world you are in, a very happy New year.
Atailoi Rongali Bihur ulog jonalu!
Until next time,