This is one of my favourite ways to eat sesame seeds, and conjures many memories of my time in Sri Lanka. As a child, I was also in awe of their exquisite presentation — these lovely balls of goodness were usually wrapped in white crepe paper, which was intricately cut to be frilly and beautiful.
Place the sesame seeds and coconut in a hot dry frying pan. Roast over medium heat, stirring regularly so they don’t burn, for about 3 minutes, until they are hot but not brown; the idea is to ‘activate’ the oil in the sesame seeds.
Crush the palm sugar using a mortar and pestle. Add two-thirds of the roasted sesame seed and coconut mixture to the mortar, along with the salt, and pound everything together until you have a lovely thick paste. Place the remaining roasted sesame seed and coconut mixture in a spice grinder and blitz into a powder, then add it to the crushed mixture. (You can use a blender to grind the entire sesame seed mixture — just take care it doesn’t become too fine, as these balls are meant to have lots of texture and bite to them.)
If the texture is too crumbly, add a little more palm sugar and a little more coconut oil to help bind the mixture together.
Take a heaped teaspoon of the mixture and push it into a clean plastic tube, about 5 cm (2 inches) long and 2 cm (¾ inch) wide, pushing down hard so it sticks together, then push it out with a wooden spoon, to give you a nice cylinder of the sweet. Alternatively, use your hands to roll the mixture into a little ball, slightly smaller than a golf ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
Serve with a cup of black tea.
The sweets will keep for a week or so, in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
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