Ditch the white sugary crystals and shift to this caramel-coloured traditional Indian sweetener for a healthier lifestyle and an elevated taste experience. Sweet-sweet jaggery and jaggery-made sweets await you.
Its rich butter-caramel like colour is a visual treat. In its liquid form, it’s shiny like honey and thick in consistency. Its candies are like chocolate pops or mini fudge cakes. Top it with some saunf (fennel) for some fresh taste and fragrance or some mild spices for a hot kick. Enjoy it in a cup of hot black coffee, add it to your cup of tea or eat it after a heavy meal; this sugar substitute will not just put an end to your sweet cravings but aid digestion, boost immunity, detoxify your body and grant you a host of other health benefits. Craving some already?
A traditional Indian sweetener, jaggery is extracted from the sap of palm trees (date palms, coconut palms, sago palms) or by concentrating sugar cane juice. Sugar cane juice is boiled down and reduced to make jaggery and also molasses, but the Indian sweetener has no added sugar or artificial preservatives to it.
Traditionally, jaggery is served after butter-drenched meals like makki ki roti and sarso ka saag (corn bread and a mash of green leafs in mustard sauce) in Punjab, added to payesh (rice pudding) in Bengal which is served at auspicious occasions, dunked in karupatti kaapi (black coffee with jaggery) in south India.
As it doesn’t require complicated or expensive refining procedures, it can be easily made by small producers. Called gur in Hindi, bellam in Telgu, vellam in Tamil, sharkara in Malyalam, gul in Marathi, patali gur in Bengali, jaggery is the sugar substitute to adapt for a healthy lifestyle.
Five reasons to swap sugar with jaggery
Aids digestion: Consuming jaggery activates digestive enzymes in the body, thus aiding digestion.
Detoxifies: It helps in flushing out toxins from the body by cleansing the liver and purifying blood.
Builds immunity: Its antioxidants and minerals such as zinc and selenium boost the resistance against infections, thus aiding immunity. Its nutrients also minimise menstrual pain and combat mood-swings and other premenstrual syndromes (PMS).
Prevents anaemia: Eating jaggery ensures a normal level of blood cells and thus anaemia prevention – credit to its richness in iron and folate. The presence of potassium and sodium in it also helps control blood pressure.
Aids weight loss: Despite being slightly higher in calories than sugar, jaggery leads to weight loss. This is because of the potassium present in it, which helps in reducing bloating and water retention. High potassium content in jaggery is often associated with its weight loss benefits.
It is because jaggery is unrefined that it retains most of its vitamins and minerals and grants various health benefits. Its medicinal properties also treat respiratory infections and fight flu symptoms. Taking into account these benefits and the growing health concerns of many; traditional sweet makers have started using it in the making of some widely consumed Indian sweet delicacies like rasagulla, ladoos, sandesh and even ice-creams, substituting sugar with gur.