“Sweet for my sweet……give me some” went the pop song.
For foodies, especially those with a sweet tooth, life without sweets makes it very dull, uninteresting and unfulfilling.
Fitness enthusiasts who are very conscious about consuming healthy and low-calorie food, choose jaggery as the natural alternative in traditional sweets. Therefore, one can enjoy the heavenly experience of relishing the rich sweets that are part of India’s culinary heritage.
A taste enhancer and a healthier sugar option, jaggery is an unrefined sugar drawn out from the sap of palm or sap of coconut or juice of sugarcane. Called ‘gur’, ‘gud’ or ‘gura’ there are broadly three types of jaggeries available in India such as sugarcane jaggery, palm jaggery and coconut jaggery. So get ready for some delectably sweetened moments as we read about them.
It is made from palm juice which is filtered and boiled for a long time. It is nutritious and contains potassium, iron, calcium, and folate. It is creamy, buttery soft to taste and is a healthier option. It has the lowest glycemic index. It is a known remedy for cold and cough while combating oxidative stress and aiding digestion. So as long as you don’t overconsume it enjoying a small bite after meals could be a good idea. It is commonly found in the Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts in TN.
Especially popular in South India, this jaggery gives you the sweetest experience compared to the other types of jaggery. It is prepared from unfermented extracted coconut sap which is boiled for long. This jaggery is packed with antioxidants and minerals like magnesium, folate and iron.
Most common among jaggery, this variant is widely consumed and enjoyed for its unique taste and texture. It is made from unrefined sugarcane juice. It is the traditional manual technique that gives this variant its uniqueness. Brown in colour those with diabetics should be wary of gobbling it. This goes for those who are conscious of weight too. However, this jaggery also is rich in minerals and nutrients.
The Common Benefits to all Types of Jaggery
Jaggery raises metabolic rate, helps in digestion, and relieves constipation. It also builds immunity, purifies blood, cleanses and detoxifies the body. By flushing toxins from the body, it detoxifies the liver. Therefore having jaggery, as compared to sugar, is definitely a plus.
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Uses of Jaggery
Jaggery, in India, is not only used in sweet dishes but also in savoury dishes. It is an ingredient in sambar, rasam, lentil soups and curries. It particularly is a favourite with Gujaratis and South Indians. Add a piece of jaggery to your humble dal and give it a wow factor.
Makar Sankranti is a famous festival and “Tilgul laddoos”, the signature sweet dish of this festival is made with jaggery.
In Rajasthan and Punjab, rice preparation made in gur is a favourite.
Molasses, which is a by-product of jaggery, make sweeteners that have minerals that are not found in sugar. Even in Ayurveda, it is considered to be beneficial.
In Gujarat, laddus and puranpolis are made of jaggery. Traditionally, an engagement of a couple is marked by serving jaggery and coriander seeds. This tradition is known as “Gol-Dhana”.
Jaggery is used for “Prasadam”, which is the offering first made to God and then given to all devotees.
- There is a tradition in Karnataka and rural Maharashtra where some jaggery and water is given to every guest upon their arrival. In Karnataka, there is another tradition: to have jaggery and neem together on the Ugadi festival. The jaggery symbolizes happiness as it is sweet and the neem embodies the struggles in life. Both taken together makes life bitter-sweet and worth living full-size.
- Want instant energy? Drink your glass of milk with jaggery. It reduces physical weakness and provides energy.
- Have jaggery with dried ginger and black pepper and do away with your cold and cough. This recipe takes care of hiccups too.
- It is a heart-friendly cardiotonic.
- Helps overcome anaemia.