Origins of Nolen Gur, A Wholesome Winter Favorite

Come winter and out come the jars of jaggery, a typical sight on the chequered eating tables of Indian houses. 

A sweetener that has been utilized in cooking since time immemorial, jaggery has, by the ages, obtained the standing of being a form of hero ingredient. 

And that is no shock. It owes its recognition of being a winter must-have to its vitamin quotient, the flexibility it displays, and as a defence towards the declining temperatures as the nippiness units in. 

However among the many many types of jaggery which are ever so in style within the bazaars of India, there’s one which has a fan following of its personal — nolen gur

What’s nolen gur

Merely put, it’s a form of jaggery comprised of the sap of the date palm tree Phoenix sylvestris. The great thing about the tree is that it solely produces this sap as temperatures start to dip, that means that the months between November to February are a great time for the jaggery to be collected. 

As soon as the sap is produced by the plant, it’s decreased over a hearth for hours so as to obtain totally different consistencies of the jaggery — particularly liquid, grainy and stable.

Nolen gur roshogullas made with the jaggery and served as a dessert in Kolkata
Nolen gur roshogullas, Image credit: Instagram: @kolkata_oikkotan

To get an thought of how that is achieved, think about the sap being heated over a flame. As the warmth intensifies, the thick gooey substance begins to rework right into a viscous liquid. Stopping the method proper earlier than crystallisation produces the jhola gur, dense liquid syrup. 

On additional heating, the sap is decreased to ‘patali’, a stable deep brown product that melts because it hits the palette. This type of jaggery is claimed to have the very best shelf life and is saved in terracotta pots.  

The pure sweetener, with its woody caramel notes, is a favorite. Even Sukumar Ray, father of Satyajit Ray declared, “Kintu shobar chaite bhalo, pauruti aar jhola gur (The very best of all is bread with jhola gur).” 

However whereas the recognition of the timeless candy concoction is so well-known, little is thought about its historical past. 

A candy is born in Bengal 

Across the 4th century BC, Pundra Bardhan (now Bogra) in Bengal had artisans belonging to ‘decrease’ castes generally known as Siulis who would extract the sap of the date palm tree. 

This may then be bought within the weekly markets and folks got here to like the standard a lot that Pundra Bardhan got here to be generally known as Gour (gur), which interprets to jaggery — a pure product of sugarcane. 

Documentations throughout this era have detailed the tedious nature of extracting the sap.   

These nomads would scale the thorny date palm bushes at night time so as to faucet it and reduce the flower cluster on the finish. They’d then hold an earthen container on the finish of this department so as to acquire the sap. 

Nolen gur payesh, a dessert served in Kolkata made with jaggery and milk
Nolen gur payesh, Image credit: Instagram: @the_epicuronomist

Nevertheless, they needed to be cautious of the temperature and the timing, because the minute the local weather would flip humid, moist, and even wet, the sap would start to show turbid, making it unfit to eat. Equally, even slight publicity to the solar’s warmth would trigger the sap to ferment and switch into an alcoholic type. The Siulis must abort the method. 

By way of time, this group turned synonymous with nolen gur

It’s stated that elders and skilled members may inform the purity of the jaggery just by observing the consistency, what trendy science phrases the ‘Brix worth’. This worth is indicative of the quantity of sugar current within the answer and ought to be 118-120 per cent for the proper jaggery. 

With the Siulis having crafted a distinct segment for themselves, Bengal started to be well-known for the nolen gur and the nation’s sweets have been proof of the love that adopted. 

Nolen gur sweets: Desserts match for kings 

The jaggery aspect steps the in any other case overloaded dessert scene by including its woody flavours subtly to the dish it sweetens. However it’s essential to get the pure type. 

As Madhuri Modak, managing director of Jalbhara Surjya Kumar Modak in Chandernagore (Chandannagar), the identify related to the invention of the jolbhora talshash sandesh, says, “Good nolen gur will vanish in your mouth, there can be no aftertaste not like sugar, which turns barely tangy in your throat.”

Thus sweets which are made with the unadulterated model are extraordinary in the way in which they style. 

Among the many many desserts which are made with the famed nolen gur, there’s the nolen gur roshogulla (ball formed desserts made with Indian cottage cheese in sugar syrup), the nolen gur sandesh (a dessert made with Indian cottage cheese, milk and sugar syrup), nolen gur kancha golla (a dessert much like the sandesh however extra brittle), nolen gur payesh (a pudding of milk, rice and sugar) and the listing goes on. 

Nolen gur halwa which is a kind of pudding made with milk and jaggery
Nolen gur halwa, Image credit: Instagram: @appetite_foody

However whereas culinary specialists revere the jaggery type, it additionally has a spiritual significance. In most candy outlets throughout Kolkata, the primary nolen gur candy is obtainable to Goddess Kali. 

Such is the style of the jaggery that it even turned a preferred substitute for sugar in ice lotions. 

Anuvrat Pabrai, founder and CEO of Pabrai’s Recent and Naturelle Ice Cream informed Media Transient that they began making nolen gur ice cream in 2007 below the model Tulika’s. 

“Now we have focussed on shopping for nolen gur by our chain of farmers who personal bushes and manufacture as per our norms, and high quality specs. Now we have a staff of almost 100 tree house owners who do that for us. We purchase almost 50,000 kgs of Liquid Gur each winter. Strict High quality checks have been developed and a QC supervisor checks every batch of Gur. Provided that it meets our high quality parameters is it bought,” stated Pabrai. 

Whereas some are followers of the style, there are others who argue the jaggery is their wholesome substitute for sugar. Science agrees.  

A sweetener for the well being acutely aware

Whether or not you select to eat a pinch of the jaggery after a meal or add it to your meals, it’s a nice thought. It is because it acts as a digestive by stimulating the bowels and prompting the manufacturing of digestive enzymes. 

One other benefit of jaggery is its iron content material, which promotes the manufacturing of haemoglobin and helps these battling anaemia. 

A research titled The Good thing about Indian Jaggery Over Sugar on Human Well being discovered that as a result of micronutrient content material of jaggery, its antitoxic and anticarcinogenic exercise is elevated. 

Research additionally counsel that as a result of excessive manganese content material in jaggery, it’s good for the mind because it improves signalling amongst neurons and will stop mind degeneration. 

One other research titled Evaluation on Current Advances in Worth Addition of Jaggery primarily based Merchandise explored its well being advantages. In response to the research, jaggery incorporates longer chains of sucrose as compared with sugar and due to this fact it’s digested slowly by the physique. 

Power launch can also be sluggish, guaranteeing a launch over a protracted time period. It additionally ensures that blood sugar ranges don’t shoot up quickly. 

With these well being advantages and the incomparable style of nolen gur, it is just proper that the candy makes its technique to your winter menu.

Edited by Divya Sethu

What Makes ‘Nolen Gur’ The Queen Of Jaggery In Bengal? By Sushmita Sengupta, Revealed on 20 January 2022.
Nolen Gur: An Awaited Season by Snigdha Banerjee, Revealed on 3 Might 2021. 
Nolen Gur Well being Advantages: Candy Recipes You Can Strive In Winters by Neha Grover, Revealed on 20 January 2021. 
The good thing about Indian jaggery over sugar on human well being by Abhay Kumar, Revealed on January 2020. 
Unique | Anuvrat Pabrai, Pabrai’s Recent & Naturelle Ice lotions: Pabrai’s USP is the style of our product by Kalpana Ravi, Revealed on 17 August 2022. 

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