The Telegraph
Wednesday , December 26 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Price puts treat out of reach

- Sesame tilkut makers blame soaring rates of ingredient

If Makar Sankranti is round the corner, can tilkuts be far away?

Everybody’s favourite winter treat, the calcium-packed sesame and sugar chunks that are supposed to keep the body warm are out of reach for many this year, thanks to their hefty price tag.

Available for Rs 120 to Rs 140 per kilo last year, white sesame tilkuts are selling for Rs 200 per kilo now. The black variety is dearer at Rs 300 per kg, as are the ones made with mava, also priced at Rs 300.

The reason cited by roadside vendors and makeshift stall owners is the same — the soaring price of sesame, the most basic ingredient. This year, the price of white sesame seeds from Kanpur is Rs 132 to Rs 140 per kg compared to Rs 70-Rs 80 per kg last year. Black sesame is Rs 200 per kg, double of last year’s Rs 100.

At Ranchi’s Mahabir Chowk, in busy Upper Bazar area, tilkut makers appeared far from happy. Mixing a batter of white sesame seeds in earthen pots with jaggery and white sugar, they bemoaned the fact that profits seemed a distant dream this year. “We bring white sesame seeds from Kanpur, which is very expensive this year and has ruined our business,” said Alok Verma, a roadside vendor.

Not surprisingly, tilkut makers are selling more of the white variety than the more expensive black, which has all but vanished from the market. “We are just making white tilkuts this season, that too at a loss as the black ones are working out to be too expensive,” said Rakesh Verma, another tilkut maker at Mahabir Chowk.

Upper Bazar is considered the best place to buy fresh tilkuts from. This year, as many as 25 tilkut makers from Gaya have arrived in the area, where they will remain till Makar Sankranti. They are employed by local shop owners who pay for their board.

Last year, tilkut sellers in Upper Bazar did business to the tune of Rs 1.5 lakh. This year, they expect to make Rs 60,000 to Rs 75,000.

While a few customers could be seen just enquiring about tilkut rates, only one or two took 250gm of the sweet. “My children wanted to taste tilkut so just to keep them happy I took 250gm of the white sesame tilkuts,” said customer Mahesh Rai, a government employee.