It’s been a while since I posted a recipe for my pet project – the Chitrapur Saraswat Cuisine series. I have been making several dishes, but haven’t had the chance to get some good photographs. And, with this new swanky blog, the photos have to be brilliant. Anyway, I remembered this recipe I had sent to India Food Network a long time ago, and forgotten to post it on the blog. So here it is, with a small story about my encounter with Jaggery – an ingredient that I have grown extremely fond of over the years that I have been experimenting with cooking.
Here’s an excerpt. For the full story and recipe, visit the post here…
I don’t like sugar. Don’t get me wrong – I have a crazy sweet tooth, but I’d much rather prefer having something sweet with dates/ honey/ jaggery providing the sweetness instead of white sugar. While I’m not too fond of dates and honey doesn’t seem to provide the sweetness that some dishes crave, jaggery is the trusted companion. This gooey, sticky, unrefined, concentrated version of sugar cane (the same thing sugar is made of) is chock full of the goodness of minerals, roughage and cooling properties.
My earliest encounter with jaggery was post Diwali many years ago when my mum had made all sorts of faraal, and my dad had bought some Mysore Pak as well. I still remember going into the kitchen one afternoon after school and climbing up the kitchen counter and reaching into the shelf to take out what I thought was the Mysore Pak.
As I stuffed my mouth with the cubes of sweet brown goodness, it dawned on me that this tasted nothing like Mysore Pak; it didn’t taste of ghee, or have that toasted flavour of the besan; it was just pure sweetness!
Turned out that I was busy ODing on jaggery blocks! I’d learned my lesson and that experience put me off the ingredient for quite a while, till I went on to cook seriously more than 10 years later. Now, jaggery is my trusted ingredient in regular Indian cooking to balance out all those sharp, strong flavours; in Asian cooking to provide sweetness; and now in Indian desserts like kheer.
Kheer is the dish of the Gods, in my opinion. It is by far my favourite Indian dessert, and I can devour it in any form – rice kheer, payasam, firni, you name it! This dish of sweet cooked milk with dry fruits and rice or seviyan is nothing short of a delicious mélange of flavours and textures. Add to that the thick cream/malai that forms on the top along with the slightly golden bits that stick to the bottom of the pot – it’s a sure winner!
Anyway, last year I discovered – regretfully a tad late, I must admit – the beauty and variety of Chitrapur Saraswat cuisine, as you may know from this series I am doing on my blog. Of course, being from the community, the cuisine was an integral part of my life and is one of my favourites, but I had never really gone beyond what my mum and relatives would make.
For the recipe, visit the original page here