Khasta Khaja (Sesame Brittle)

One of my favorite sweet things to eat was the Tiler Khaja that was sold in the weekly ‘mela’ in my uncle’s village in Baliadanga in the district of Malda, West Bengal. Khaja was made in a honeycomb brittle crispy sheet that would melt into your tongue as soon as you bit into it. There was really nothing like it. Where I grew up near Kolkata, til or sesame, both white and black, was mostly used to make laddus. There is no comparison in texture or taste between the two. I don’t know if the melas are still held or urbanization has eroded those special occasions where people came together and the entire day was filled with discovering what new food or other household items a week brought. Gone are those days sadly! When I try and explain this to my children I don’t think they can even comprehend the enormous change my generation has gone through. Years later, when we lived in London there was a shop in Turnpike Lane, Woodgreen in North London called Food Hall that used to sell a ton of Indian stuff. I did manage to get Khaja a few times there but it was not the same. Fresh food done with hands that did that for years has a separate charm altogether. This recipe is my homage to that memory. Take your time with it. The total amount of time needed is under half an hour which is saying a lot when it comes to Indian sweets as many require more patience and a much longer time. The key to this recipe is LOW FLAME. I cannot stress that more. The sesame seeds should be toasted crunchy but not burnt. The honey mixture should be caramelized but not too darkened as that would make it bitter. Apart from that, this is a simple recipe. Do try it and let me know if you like it @sarchakra

PREP TIME: 5 mins

COOK TIME:

YIELDS: Serves 6

Ingredients

  • White Sesame seeds 1 cup
  • Granulated sugar ⅓ cup
  • Honey ¼ cup
  • Ghee for greasing

Method

  • Lightly grease 2 large parchment sheets with ghee. Also grease a spatula. Set aside.
  • Set a heavy bottomed non stick pan on the hob. Pour in 1 cup of sesame seeds. Keep the flame LOW. Dry roast for about 4- 5 mins till the sesame seeds are toasted and turn aromatic. They do not need to completely change color. Pour the seeds in a bowl.
  • Wipe the pan clean and dry. Pour in ⅓ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of honey. Keep stirring intermittently taking care the flame is LOW and nothing burns or overcooks. The sugar should start to melt and caramelize. This should take about 5-6 mins. The color of the sugar mixture should turn light amber. Do not cook beyond this point.
  • Add the toasted sesame seeds to the sugar mixture. Combine till all the sesame seeds are coated and sticky with the sugar mixture.
  • Pour the mixture onto the greased parchment paper. Flatten with the greased spatula. Cover the mixture with the other parchment paper grease side down. Using a rolling pin, flatten the mixture to desired thickness.
  • Use a sharp heavy duty knife to cut the sesame sheets into diamond shapes. Do this BEFORE it cools down as it will harden and become brittle if you try to cut it once it is cool.
  • Sesame Brittle is ready. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

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Steps
Khasta Khaja
Closeup

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