What is ‘Nolen Gur’? Why is it so unique?
‘Nolen Gur’, ‘Notun Gur’ or ‘Khejur Gur’ is Date Palm Jaggery that is unique to Bengal. With the onset of a nip in the air, the local sweet (dessert) shops, in my hometown of Kolkata, are buzzing with eager customers buying the dairy-based sweets made with the ‘New Jaggery’. ‘Nolen’ stands for new, and ‘gur’ stands for jaggery.
This gur is available only during winter and has an unmatchable fragrance and flavor to it. The ‘gur’ is procured by family-based farmers located in the suburbs of Kolkata, West Bengal. A cut is made into the Date Palm Tree and an earthen pot in attached just below it to collect the sap that oozes out from it. This sap is then boiled in large iron vessels and solidified into blocks, and at last sold in the markets. It is unique because this whole process can be done only during winter and, therefore, known as ‘Nolen Gur’ or New Jaggery. It is consumed fresh, too, during the winter months because in summer, due to the heat it turns rancid.
There are no chemicals or preservatives added, it is completely organic, and way healthier than sugar. Infact, nolen gur is recommended for people with diabetes. Gur has an unrefined and complex structure which ensures slower release of sugar into the bloodstream as compared to refined and processed sugar.
This December, AB and I went to India, specifically Kolkata. How could I not get back ‘Nolen Gur’ with me? The markets sell Nolen Gur blocks wrapped in the local Bengali newspaper. Something that had always seemed so ‘everyday’ to me, suddenly stood out this time. It’s been very long since I have had something that I have purchased, wrapped in newspaper for me! I brought it back just as it was and photographed the gur with it too.
To do justice to this (in other words, to consume it the right way), I want to make a variety of desserts and sweets using this dark golden treasure. And to document it, I will start a ‘Nolen Gur Series’ on my blog. The first recipe is Nolen Gur’er Patishapta on the occasion of ‘Poush Sankranti’. You may also click here for the recipe post.
Yes, I will share recipes made with this but beyond that, I wish there was a way to make you taste and savor this jaggery. Your taste buds would thank you with sheer joy!