Tilkut has a special place in Bihari Culture. This traditional dessert has a distinct identity. Made from a mixture of Jaggery and Sesame (Til), it is well known for its petrichor and unmatched taste. The best thing is they can remain crispy and fresh for several days.
According to a popular belief in Hinduism, donating and eating Sesame seeds on Makar Sankranti (January 14–15), one attains salvation.
Its history starts around 150 years ago in Ramna, Gaya, during the princely state of Tekari. The King of Tekari had a sweet tooth. Falling in love with Tilkut’s, he always encouraged the artisans.
Tilkut’s were sent as presents to the native and foreign guests regularly. As a result, it became popular around the world. Its demand has only risen with time. Even after the ever-increasing share of western desserts, Gaya’s Tilkut has maintained its exclusive position.
Starting from November, the season of Tilkut continues till the end of February. Its demand reaches its peak on Makar Sankranti. People can be found standing in lines for hours to get their hands on this crispy confectionary.
On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, the tradition of consuming Curd, Rice Flakes (Chura), Jaggery/Sugar and Sesame has been prevalent since ancient times and it’s delicious.
Preparing this crispy dessert is a tiresome process. Among the ingredients, white and black sesame, jaggery/sugar and other materials are used. White sesame comes from Kanpur, Daltonganj and Gujarat.
At the same time, the black sesame is sourced from Guwahati and Siliguri. The secret behind the special and crispy taste is using the finest quality of fresh sesame seeds delicately ground and mixed with cardamom, good quality oil, locally made fresh Jaggery and the friendly environment in Gaya.
Nowadays, many experiments have been done with Tilkuts and you can see a wide variety; from Paper (Papdi) Tilkut to Khowa Tilkut. You can see a range of stalls selling them today, but the Tilkut of Gaya has maintained its unique personality.
They are packed with multiple health benefits. It provides heat and energy to the body and helps in beating the cold. It helps in strengthening the immune system as well. Sesame is popular for being a high-quality vegetarian source of protein.
It is packed with antioxidants and inflammatory properties. Being loaded with zinc, magnesium and calcium, it is good for maintaining bone health. Unfortunately, my diabetic fellows would have to restrain themselves for it is rich in sugar.
You won’t be able to put down this nutty delicacy once you start eating it. Cold weather welcomes you with the goodness of Tilkut. Relish it: the taste, the hard work and the history.