Jaggery, also known as gud or gur, is an ancient sweetener that has been used since the Vedic period. The oldest Ayurvedic book, Charaka Samhita, also mentions jaggery as an ingredient capable of producing a lot of blood and muscle.
This sweetener is abundant during the winter season, which explains why we see so many jaggery-based dishes on the market. However, many people are still confused about what jaggery is and why it is considered a healthier alternative to sugar.
For those who are unfamiliar, jaggery is unrefined brown sugar derived from various plant sources. Because it is not centrifuged to remove the molasses, it is also known as non-centrifugal sugar.
It is popular in several Asian countries and is known by various names. You might be surprised to learn that India produces approximately 55% of the world’s jaggery. Its soul-satisfying experience cannot be compared to any other sweet.
The taste of jaggery is divine and is high in minerals and vitamins. It also acts as a natural immunity booster and aids in the wintertime care of our health. But did you know that jaggery comes in a variety of flavours? Read on.
The most common type of jaggery is prepared with sugarcane juice. It is light to medium brown in colour and is prepared traditionally by boiling, churning and then filtering the liquid jaggery which then solidifies. Often, it is used in dishes like Chikki, Kheer, Rice, Dosa, Poha etc for its rich taste and colour.
Date Palm Jaggery
It has a chocolate-like flavour and is high in minerals. It is also known as Khajoor Gur. This jaggery is known for its therapeutic properties and is made by extracting date palm sap, cooking and churning by hand. This jaggery is easily available in West Bengal, particularly in the Kolkata region. This jaggery has significantly more nutrition than the other varieties.
This jaggery is high in magnesium and iron because it is made from unfermented coconut sap. It is not your typical sucrose and contains no artificial ingredients. This jaggery is commonly known as ‘Madda or Suri Gud’ and has a pyramid shape, hence the name ‘Pyramid Gud.’ Coconut jaggery is often used in spicy gravies to reduce the spiciness and it is predominantly used in Goan cuisine.
Which one is the best?
Each type of jaggery, whether coconut or palm, is high in minerals and vitamins. However, the fructose and glucose content of these jaggery variants makes them healthier than the rest.
When all three types of jaggery are compared, Palm Jaggery is known to be the healthiest due to its low Glycemic Index (GI). It is also high in nutrients, which can help with not only seasonal flu but also improve immunity.
However, experts agree that while this is the healthiest jaggery option, it should be consumed in moderation to reap the most benefits.