Gajak is a sweet snack consumed during winters. It is associated with some famous Indian festivals like Lohri, Basant Panchami, Baisakhi and Makar Sankranti. It is a well-known sweet in Northern India especially Meerut, Agra, Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, and some places in Madhya Pradesh.
The word “gazak” or “gajak” is derived from “Giza” that means nutrient and a tonic. It contains grains, til (sesame seeds) and nuts like peanuts; other components may be added but basically, it is prepared by the use of sugar, brown sugar and jaggery. These binding agents can be replaced by honey as well. All nuts or till are cooked in a syrup of sugar or jaggery and then flattened. It is spread in thin layers to dry and then cut in rectangular shapes before it becomes crisp.
It can be preserved for months as it doesn’t spoil easily. Every time you go to the market, you’ll be amazed by a new variety.
There are different types of gajak available, most popular being:
Gur and Til Gajak: This is one of the most famous types of gajak popular in many regions of India. The nutritious ingredients (til, gur, jaggery and ghee) make it a demandable sweet in the country.
Chocolate Gajak: To give a variant taste, this gajak is laden with chocolate.
Dry fruit Gajak: Generally, sesame seeds and peanuts are used for gajak but makers use dry fruits to make it more delicious and a delightful sweet. This is nutritious and good for health also.
Sugar-free Gajak: This is good for those who don’t like too much sugar and are health conscious. Sweetness is imparted with the use of artificial sweeteners keeping the nutritional value unaffected. Citric acid is also added to extend its shelf life.
Morena Ki Gajak: It is a town based name given to this special kind of gajak. Morena is a small district in Madhya Pradesh. This gajak is made from two main homegrown ingredients sesame seeds and jaggery in a unique fusion.
Health Benefits of all ingredients:
Til (sesame seeds)
Sesame seeds are placed high in the list of must-have winter foods according to Ayurveda as they are packed with nutrients are have the ability to generate heat and energy in the body. Apart from being a rich source of calcium and manganese, they contain minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, selenium, molybdenum and dietary fibre. Sesame seeds trigger hair growth, delay the ageing process, keep the skin soft and supple, boost digestion, promote bone health, stabilizes blood pressure and help fight stress and depression.
Peanut is a great legume packed with lots of health benefits. It contains good fats which help in lowering the risk of cardiac disorders. It is also a good source of fibre and protein which help in improving satiety. It contains essential vitamins like B and E and minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, iron, selenium and manganese that help in regulating the metabolism and support tissue and bone formation.
It is also known as Gur that is made from unrefined sugar and is obtained by boiling sugarcane juice till it solidifies. The end product (gur) is better than sugar in essential nutrients. It not only provides energy but is also rich in antioxidants and minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium. It also acts as a detox and helps in digestion and cleansing the body by flushing out nasty toxins. It is even recommended by Ayurvedic experts as it has Vata and Kapha balancing properties.