Jaggery, popularly known as ‘gur’ in India, is a light golden to dark brown colored un-refined non-centrifugal cane sugar that generally contains around 50% of sucrose, 20% inverts sugars, 20% moisture and the some insoluble substances such as wood ash, proteins, and bagasse fibers. Also spelt as jaggaree, this un-refined cane sugar is native to the Asian, African, Caribbean and Latin American countries and there are many recipes of this iron rich sugarcane extract that are quite popular in these regions. Known to be very rich in iron and other minerals and vitamins, this unrefined cane sugar is used for treating and controlling various health related problems. Though rare, today palm sugar too is used for making slightly light golden colored sweetening agent that is popular in the Middle East.


History of Jaggery Recipes

Jaggery has its origin in the countries such as India, Pakistan, Latin America, Caribbean, etc., where the sugar cane production is high. Even in the ancient medical scriptures that date back to around 2500 years, there are documented evidences of how disorders of bile, purification of blood and many more ailments being treated with this brown colored un-refined cane sugar. In fact, the scientists of the Industrial Toxicology Research Centre presented a paper at a workshop held in Lyon, France, about how people working in environments that smoky and dusty, can be protected with this sugarcane juice extract.


Culinary Uses of Gur

Jaggery has many culinary uses, be it in sweets or savories. Many sweets as well savory dishes are made with the inclusion of this un-refined cane sugar in large or small quantities, especially in some South Asian cuisines such as in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Even the sour, salty and spicy tastes of the dishes such as dal, sambhar, a few curries, and certain other regional staples are cut down with the addition of a little of this unrefined cane sugar.


Popular Jaggery Recipes

Jaggery is considered healthy in comparison to sugar and this is eaten as is by many people and also included in some dishes. There are many Indian sweets and even savory dishes that use ‘gur’. Some popular recipes are -

Tili ka Laddu– This is a sweet dessert quite popular in various parts of India. It made with slightly roasted sesame seeds, to which grated ‘gur’ are added. Some people even make ‘one string’ syrup with the jiggery and then added to the sesame seeds. They are mixed well and then made into tight balls and set aside. These Til Ka Laddus are quite popular all over the Indian sub-continent and considered very auspicious, hence they are part of most Indian festivals. Similarly, even coconut laddus are made with this sweetening agent.

Puran Poli– These are sweet stuffed rotis that have filling of boiled split chick peas and gud, mixed together and flavored with cardamom. These rotis are quite popular in the western part of India, especially during festivals.

Other than these, jaggery is also added to savory dishes such as rasam and certain curries, just to enhance the flavor and cut down on the strength of other tastes in the dishes.


Varieties of Gur

This sweetening agent is made not only from cane sugar, but also from palm sugar (which is light golden brown in color), and also from sago palm and coconut palm in recent times, especially in West Bengal, South India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.


Trivia- Gur

Jaggery is used instead of sugar in parts of India, for sweetening tea and milk, as it is considered a healthier option.