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July 2006

Sweet Sesame and Rice Flour Ladoos


The phrase for 'Open Sesame' in India is Khulja Sim Sim. We even have a TV show by that name. I think it is a sort of  "The Price is Right"  kind of show. Opening the Doors to a consumer’s ultimate fantasy. Flat screen TV, sauna belt, rice cooker, mixie, music system with CD, DVD, and some designer clothes . How mundane compared to those glittering jewels and the oil lamp. Oh well.

Sim Sim is Persian for sesame though the seed is known as Til in Marathi, or Gingelly in English. I love sesame seeds in all things. Be it in a vegetable dish, sprinkled on salad or on top of bread. I am in good company there.

Sesame is recorded, in a list of spices, condiments and oils, in a cuneiform scroll found in the library at Nineveh, which was founded by King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (668-663 B.C) and is also known to have been used from the 4th Century B.C by Susruta the elder, a surgeon, as an antiseptic in a poultice made from leaves and seeds. It is also recorded as an herbal medicine by Susruta the second, in his mushkakadigana.

That wonderful and ancient legend of Gilgamesh, mentions Enkidu's diet as consisting of, among other interesting things, worms, figs, cucumbers, honey and bread made of sesame flour. People in the rural areas of Iraq continue to make the same bread, of barley flour, sesame flour and onions and mighty tasty it is too.

Though it's scientific name is sesamum indicum, I think the indicum part refers to Indonesia where it is indigenous, though India is one of the largest producers of sesame seeds. In the 1st Century A.D. it was exported from Sind and India via the Red Sea to Europe.

Ayurvedic treatment makes extensive use of the oil for massage. Being on a bit of a health binge the knowledge that sesame is good for so many things increases my use of it. All that calcium, phytosterol, magnesium, copper and zinc is the need of the hour ,what with the HBP.

So here is a nice way to get the best of sesame in a gluten free sweet but with the wickedness of frying. Out of this world with a scoop of vanilla icecream.

Sweet Sesame Bonda


1 1/2 cups til / sesame seed.

3/4 cup channa dal / Bengal gram

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2-cup rice flour

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup gur / jaggery

3 cups oil for deep-frying

Fry sesame seeds and Chana dal

Fry the sesame seeds and channa dal in 3 tbsp oil in a non stick pan.till just golden. Do not make it brown or the ladoo will taste burnt.

Powder in a coffee grinder

Remove from fire, cool and powder in a coffee grinder. It looks just like really thick peanut butter.

Melt Gur / jaggery

Put the gur in a pan and heat till melted and a little thickened. Remove from fire. Immediately add the channa dal and til powder to it and mix well.

Form into ladoos

Now form 1" balls /ladoos out of the mixture. Try and do this as fast as possible without burning your palms, or the mixture might dry out and harden.

Add enough water to make the rice flour into a paste of just pouring consistency.Not too thin nor too thick.

Heat oil in a deep pan or kadhai. Dip the ladoos into the rice paste and fry in the hot oil till golden brown.

Serve hot with cold icecream as a dessert.

Saltless Food

A dish without salt is like a man without manners- Ethiopian Proverb

It is a railing sort of day. Grey, wet (which now means flooded around these parts), miserable. The rain gods have been more than generous. Trouble is when they overdo a good thing one stops being grateful. Being an ever so slightly superstitious sort I am now afraid that for my morning talk I’ll be hit by lightning on my evening walk. You know "As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods. They kill us for their sport" etc. etc.

We can hardly be blamed for thinking the papers in the morning and the litany of pointless and preventable deaths begins. People washed down manholes, swept away by currents in the river when the sluices are opened without warning, electrocuted by an open wire while crossing the road.

Actually I don't think it is the Gods we have to blame so much as the Municipal authorities, who do not undertake any job unless it is pointed out to them. Even if they do a piece of work, the job is shoddily done and incomplete, so the roads remain hazardous. Public areas under their jurisdiction have death hidden behind every corner, especially for the uneducated and trusting. Payments to contractors are always made in full though.

Now add to these indignities the lack of manners in most public 'servants'. (Servant by name, Badshahs by attitude) People who are employed on the taxes we pay.

One is the man who accepts payment of electricity bills. The queue begins at 9 as the office opens at 10 and people have to get on their way to other jobs as quickly as possible. The man sits in his comfortable booth with a fan on while the queue is out in the open without benefit of shade. Come rain or shine the queue is long and patient. Rain can mean the deluge it is now, and sun can mean 40 C in the summer.

Mr. Clerk comes to office at 11.15 a.m. Everyday he is late or sometimes even absent. No reason given.  Initial murmurs of anger fade away soon for, if you are too vocal, he is likely to find something wrong with the bill or your form of payment or your lack of change. In which case the two and a half hours spent dripping with perspiration or rain is wasted.

Or he is rude beyond belief. Since most people in the line are ordinary citizens, people who do not have employees to stand in the line for them, they are obviously not important or rich enough to see that the man gets sacked. That is what he counts on. The meekness of the poor, the old, the retired, the weary.

Calls to the Electricity Board's local office to complain are ignored. Sometimes one hears them sniggering in the background.

This is now common among those who work for the government. A complete lack of manners in dealing with anyone.  Politeness seems to be a thing of the past. Everyone wants to have the last word and that word is often a curse. All this raises my blood pressure which means a. I have to walk more and where else but on these flooded roads. b. I have to cut out all salt from my diet. And “a dish without salt is like…..” Rude Food? I would not want to offer that to anyone. recipe this time.

The very Best of Food & Wine Blogs from Around the World- Updated April 2008


Here is a constantly expanding list of links to some of my favourite food blogs :

Il Forno  Sadly Il Forno is moving and may not be blogging for some time.


La Tartine Gourmande

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Chubby Hubby


Cucina Testa Rossa

David Lebovitz




KIPlog cooks and eats


Petit Careme-Trinidad

Becks & Posh



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Kenyan Pundit


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A La Cuisine

The Amateur Gourmet


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The Serendipitous Chef

Sushi 4 Me