Thursday, February 17, 2011

Featured Ingredient

                                                            JAGGERY A.K.A GUR

       Whats so sweet about jaggery? Jaggery is a vitamin rich unrefined non-centrifugal whole cane sugar. A product of raw sugar cane juice concentrate with out separation of the molasses and crystals. Jaggery is traditionally consumed in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Jaggery is not just made from sugar cane alone, it is also produced from palm tree sap in different varieties; date palms, coconut palms and sago palms.

      Jaggery has been said to have health benefits and healing potential due to its high content of mineral salts, plus its the purist form of sweetener available, completely free of chemical process or enrichment. Gandhi was a big jaggery advocate and he used it in his own diet regularly supposedly to prevent throat and lung infections. This stuff can prevent infections?

      In this age of gastronomical awareness we are living in, there are literally dozens of  "natural sweeteners". In my opinion there is one true original that will always be king, SUGAR. What is more natural than raw sugar, JAGGERY. Gandhi loved it, palms produce it, high mineral salts, no chemicals, this stuff is awesome.

Still not sweet on jaggery? Heres a bunch of other crazy uses and interesting facts about jaggery I dug up.


  • Sugar cane jaggery is often used as a lining for inner walls of earthen ovens and is used for seasoning them. Even just a few decades ago, jaggery was used as a building material, particularly in those places where cement was not available. It was mixed with lime, sand and clay and used as cement for joining bricks. Jaggery, which is predominantly sucrose, upon reacting with calcium carbonate in lime and silica in clay, formed a very strong bond and becomes very hard with drying. Some examples of such buildings can still be seen in West Bengal and in other parts of India.


  •  Low quality jaggery, mixed with dust of tobacco, is used as tooth paste in many parts of India. It is so widely used that government earns some handsome revenue out of that. It is very popular and very addictive at the same time (I need not mention here that it is very harmful for the teeth and for overall health). Some people can be seen rubbing this crazy stuff on their teeth all day and night, very lazily. It is said to be a common sight in villages of India still. 


  • Among Hindus, it is customary to take a bite of jaggery after attending funeral, along with Margo leaves, crushed black pepper and to touch fire and iron, as it is said to purify. In certain religious ceremonies and rituals, small idols of jaggery, rice paste and turmeric are prepared and offered to their regional Gods and Goddesses.


  • There are recorded instances where jaggery had been used as bait for hunting wild animals. It was dumped in the open so that wild animals would come attracted by its smell and fall prey to the hunters. Since jaggery contains salt in it, besides being sweet and having a strong aroma, animals like to lick it. Mixed with a number of ingredients such as ant eggs, ghee, edible oils, cardamom powder, nutmeg powder, mace, poppy seeds and a few other more expensive items, jaggery forms excellent fishing bait.                                                                                                                                     
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