Jaggery (Your New Star Ingredient)

If you enter my kitchen, you’ll be sure to see a thick block of golden jaggery stuffed in a plastic jar by the side. I have a jar of crumbled jaggery too. At home, this natural cane sugar has almost entirely replaced its white, refined and factory made variant. Its fragrant complexity beats the ordinariness of plain sugar and it brings a new fun flavor to coffee, milkshakes, lentil soups, salads and pretty much anything. Essentially, Jaggery is a sugar made out of dates or sugar cane and most typically popular in Asia (especially India) and parts of Africa. It’s a largely unprocessed sugar so it retains some vitamins and minerals and possesses a very unique taste. It doesn’t give you a sugar crash and keeps your energy levels consistent for longer. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used as an ingredient to help with sore throats and even lung infections.

In India, this golden substance is a staple in many homes. Depending on the region Indians use to it to add a small amount of sweet to balance the salt and spice in lentil dals or make a diverse range of sweets.

Here are some fun things you can do with Jaggery. One thing to remember is that Jaggery is not molasses (which is a byproduct of jaggery) and is usually sold solid, powdered and sometimes in a gooey paste.

Twist in the Tea

Add a spoon of jaggary to your green tea after dinner. Jaggery is used in North India as a digestive. It’s common to chew on a tiny piece of jaggery after a big meal.

Sweeten the Savory

Jaggery can create an interesting balance in soups, lentils, and even meat marinates. Add jaggery instead of sugar to your barbecue sauce, or just add some to some hot sauce to create a sweet-spicy sauce. Add a spoon or two into a hotpot soup, or lentils to add a tiny bit of sweet. The flavours will pop!

Nut Bars

Just roast your favorite nuts (peanuts, almonds, and cashews work really well) in a pan. Melt a block of jaggery in it, add teaspoon or two of water to get it syrupy enough and add your nuts. Pour into a pan and when it has cooled cut into squares! A healthy snack to keep in your bag.

Don’t forget that the wonderful golden goodness also packs in the calories, so use it in moderation. The potential to experiment with jaggery is pretty much limitless. Let me know if you have tried something fun with jaggery or have a cool recipe to share! Until then, keep things sweet, happy, and fun!