Are you guilty of indulging in too much sugar? Would you not like to know about a healthier alternative that will leave you with more minerals, less calories and zero guilt? No suspense here, today we are going to talk about gur, or jaggery.
One hundred grams of gur contains about 380 calories, 160 mg magnesium, 130 mg potassium, 80 mg calcium, 48 mg phosphorus and 3 mg iron, along with traces of vitamins, copper and zinc. The same amount of refined white sugar has 400 calories but almost nonexistent levels of the other nutrients.
As jaggery is more complex than sugar, it gets absorbed more slowly and provides energy for a longer period. Daily consumption of jaggery boosts digestion and immunity; its strong antioxidant properties also help to detoxify our system.
Drinking warm water mixed with a teaspoon of jaggery can effectively cure hiccups, coughs and even anaemia. Moreover, it relieves premenstrual cramps, bloating, muscle sores and headaches, making it particularly beneficial to women.
Bangladesh is amongst the few countries in the world where jaggery is prepared in abundance. In fact, recently there have been talks of patenting the khejur-gur-patiopali (a dry mixture of date palm jaggery and coconut). The districts of Jessore and Faridpur supply the best quality jaggery in our country.
Most of our jaggery is made from sugarcane (akher gur) and date palm juice (khejurer gur). In some regions it is also made from palm juice; Khulna is especially renowned for preparing jaggery from golpata or fan-palm juice.
The khajura gur from Jessore and the hazari gur from Madaripur are both famous forms of date palm jaggery. Jhola (semi-liquid), nali and chita are among the prominent varieties of sugarcane jaggery.
Compare the flavours we find jaggery from sugarcanes and jaggery from palm juice to be at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Palm juice needs to be boiled for much longer to get rid of the bitterness but akher gur is almost too sweet.
Date palm jaggery tastes almost chocolatey in the sense that it is not too sweet and contains a hint of bitterness. That is why khejurer gur is the most popular form of jaggery, even though all of these can be used alternately for the same dishes. These are all available in the markets from mid-December with prices starting from Tk65 to as much as Tk 650 per kilogram depending on quality, source and supplier district.
Gur can be stored easily and hence we can use it daily in our tea, coffee or breakfast cereal. Although it is conventional for Bengalis to use gur in preparing payesh, pithha and naroo, we can also use it in substituting sugar while preparing delicious assortments of jams and other desserts.
By Antara Islam