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The art form called ‘nolen gur’, delivered to your doorstep

10 January, 2021 09:05:19
The art form called ‘nolen gur’, delivered to your doorstep

'Nolen gur'. The two words calculated to gladden the heart of any Bengali. Somewhat more prosaically translated into English as liquid date jaggery, 'nolen gur', also known as 'jhola gur', is essentially jaggery made from the first flush of juice from the date palm tree (khejur in Bengali, of course). 

For the more practical-minded, jaggery is said to be rich in minerals and antioxidants, thus extremely beneficial in boosting immunity and as a natural source of detoxification. It also helps in digestion, which makes it a good dessert option. Owing to its high iron content, jaggery also increases haemoglobin levels and helps treat anaemia.

The infinitely delicate, laborious process of making 'nolen gur' deserves a blog to itself. Every evening during Bengal's shortlived winters, earthen containers are tied to date palm trees to catch the sap oozing out. At the crack of dawn the next day, before the sun is properly up (this is critical), the containers are taken down and the process of making 'gur' or jaggery begins. Notably, as mentioned above, only the first fetch of juice is good enough for 'nolen gur'. The second batch produces a slightly inferior variety known as 'jiren gur'.

The fine art of making 'nolen gur' takes literally years to get right. For anyone not familiar with the process, the 1973 Hindi film 'Saudagar', directed by Sudhendu Roy and based on the Bengali short story 'Ras' by Narendranath Mitra, is worth a watch. Essentially, the date palm juice is heated in large vats until it becomes jaggery, but if the heating is inadequate, all you'll get is condensed juice, while overheating will produce a concoction with a burnt flavour, quite unfit for consumption. In addition, the juice needs to be protected from harsh sunlight so that it cannot ferment, which would turn it into cheap liquor.

The experts who harvest the date palm juice are known as 'shiuli', a breed gradually becoming extinct in Bengal, though there has been talk of setting up dedicated date palm plantations in order to keep this ancient art alive.

‘Jhola gur’ or 'nolen gur' has a sticky, gooey texture, and its sweetness and nutty flavour make it an all-time favourite winter ingredient in the making of various Bengali delicacies such as roshogolla, payesh, and sandesh.  It can also simply be eaten as it is with chapatis, cereals, or even as icing on cakes. Completely free of chemicals and preservatives, 'nolen gur' is an integral part of Bengal’s culture, an ancient one at that.

For the more practical-minded, jaggery is said to be rich in minerals and antioxidants, thus extremely beneficial in boosting immunity and as a natural source of detoxification. It also helps in digestion, which makes it a good dessert option. Owing to its high iron content, jaggery also increases haemoglobin levels and helps treat anaemia.

Without further ado, place your order online on www.thebengalstore.com and get Bengal’s unique and mouth-watering ‘nolen gur’ delivered to your doorstep.

Story Tag:
  • Nolen Gur, Jhola Gur

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