What is Jaggery Jaggery is a very common food ingredient item used in kitchen in Indian homes for many recipes. Apart from preparation of desserts and special sweets, It is used to add flavour and taste to many dishes.
Jaggery is unrefined form of sugar used for food and consumption. It is made from Sugarcane juice. Juice is extracted by crushing ripe raw sugar cane sticks. The juice thus extracted is heated in large vessels until it becomes thick concentrate and near solid. That is then made into blocks or made into rounds or needed shape using moulds, and allowed to solidify.
Jaggery is known in Indian different languages as Sharkara, Vellam, Bellam, Gud(gur) etc. A variety of jiggery called Palm Jaggery is made from palm juice extract of date palms.
How jaggery is different from white sugar Jaggery is unrefined. It is not subjected to any chemical bleaching process. In fact no chemicals are added and the process uses simple evaporation by heating. Hence it is also made in villages near sugarcane farms without using any advanced technology also. It is a good substitute of sugar with good sweetness. It has more than calorie value and has many nutrients and has nutrient and medicinal value and hence used as ingredient in many Ayurvedic and native medicines.
Medicinal value and health benefits of Jaggery Indian Ayurvedic preparations use Jaggery, not sugar, in them.
Jaggery- a must in homes It is because of the medicinal and nutrient value of jaggery that most of the sweets prepared during the various festivals in India use jaggery as major ingredient. The tradition in India is to use food itself as preventive and curative medicines. Most of the Ayurvedic medicines like 'arishtams' and Lehyas have jaggery as an important ingredient.
Keeping jaggery on the kitchen shelf can be helpful not just as a sweetener and sugar substitute, but a very handy home remedy and preventive medicine.
Author has made nice presentation of importance of jaggery in our foods which not only bring good and different taste but also helps in maintaining our health. In this regard I wish to mention that in every Kannadigas homes the sambar is prepared by adding little bit of jaggery and even today when I go to any Udupi restaurant in Hyderabad, invariably I find jaggery is being used in Sambar and Rasam recipes. Some people have the habit of taking jaggery included tea and not sugar mixed tea. There are elders who take peanuts along with some jaggery even today. So jaggery has become the must item in our Indian kitchen.
Jaggery also makes a nice rustic breakfast, where it is eaten with oodles of desi-ghee and hot chapattis.
These days’ people, especially those into fitness and sports eat energy bars. In India, we have energy bars made from jaggery, and these are available in a wide variety. Jaggery is mixed with other nutritious ingredients and made into laddoos, chikki, toffee and gajak etc.
The most popular among these are items containing til (sesame seeds) and jaggery, peanuts and jaggery, dry fruits and jaggery, nuts and jaggery. These are instant energy boosters.
I once saw jaggery being made, in a village. And it wasn’t a very hygienic process. All sorts of living creatures and leaves were falling into the bubbling mix and were being churned into it. Flies swarmed the place in hundreds. I love a breakfast of chapatti, ghee and gur, but haven’t had it since.
Above comment by Juana leads me to another snack using Jaggery. It is prepared by mixing mildly soak-wetted rice flakes and jaggery. Usually children like this.
Legend has it that Sri Krishna was fond of this, and his friend Sudama brought this as gift to Krishna when he visited Mathura after long time since school days.
Not only humans like Jaggery, but Elephants also relish Jaggery. People feed Elephants Jaggery as such or in combination with Coconut or Banana fruits.