Seldom it happens that we denote a season by a food item. And being a sweet-tooth Bengali, well, it’s no secret now that I am talking about gur (or jaggery in English) ffor winter season. It’s the holy chalice for a Bengali. Over the years, stories and movies are created on it, needless to say, numerous varieties of sweets are invented with this ingredient. But, the question is, what is gur? and what’s the mystery behind it? this blog post is a tribute to the item.
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For us in #kolkata , we denote a #season by few #food items. Yes, as #mohamushkil , we know #gluttony is a #sin , but who cares. So, today I went somewhere in search of winter's liquid #gold – khejur #gur . And trust me, sipping some khejur ras first and then some liquid gur, and listening to the #village stories, it's #surreal … and some good news from @foodkaseries coming real #soon …
In ancient times
The human race is born with a natural tastebud for sweetness. We are born with it. In ancient times- before some fifteen thousand years, we get the mention of sugarcane and honey as sweetening agents. I am sure, the honeybees helped in finding the honey first and the human race found out how to chew the juice out of sugarcane. Probably, the Mesopotamians were the inventors of jaggery. And during the ancient trade, the skillset was transferred to us, Indians. It might be interesting to know that once, the entire Birbhum, Burdwan, Malda, and Murshidabad area was the hub of ancient jaggery making and probably, it was the reason that the name “Gourbanga” was given to that particular territory.
The source of Gur can be primarily classified in two varieties- sugarcane and date tree- thus owing to the name, akh-er (sugarcane) gur, and khejur-gur. The sugarcane juice is heated in flat-bottom vessels, till it gets condensed and the perfect color is obtained. The first cut is called as Poyra- maybe from the term “Poyla” or first-cut, After some more heating, it gets to the second stage which is named as “Patali” and the third and final/ worst version is Veli gur. Needless to say, this cut is not really considered as a great quality jaggery.
Even, jaggery from the dates tree or Khejur gur, can be classified into two varieties- Nolen and Jiren. Everyday evening, the containers or handis are tied to the tree with the insertion and the juice gets accumulated inside that, for the whole night. In the early morning, they are taken down and gur is processed. Gur made from the first fetch of juice is named as Nolen Gur. The tree is left for some rest for some time and jaggery made from the second fetch is named as the Jiren Gur. Here also, Nolen gur is considered to be the superior variety.
Here, it’s better to mention that sugarcane jaggery or akher gur is used mostly for Batasa/ murki/ Nokuldana etc- mostly cheap varieties of sweets. And the royal varieties, like Sandesh or Rasogolla are made with the Khejur Gur and mostly, with the Nolen Gur.
Well, the challenge for making jaggery is checking the consistency. The way, chefs check the consistency of sugar syrup, it’s almost the same here. Now, I am not an expert to comment on the detailed process. But, it takes years to master the skill. If the heating is slightly less, it’ll not be a gur- rather a condensed juice. and, if it’s heated extra, the jaggery will have a burnt flavor and is unusable. If somebody has got the resources, tasting the fresh date juice, or Khejur Ras is pure heaven in a misty winter morning. But as soon as it gets the kiss of harsh sunlight, fermentation starts- converting it into the cheap spirit. But nothing can beat a sip at the liquid gold of Bengal- the liquid first cut khejur gur.
And finally, Joynagar er moa made with Gur
So, what is Moa ? And why such a fuss over joynagar er moa, or Baharu r Moa? Let’s see. There is a special variety of Paddy called Kanakchur and which grows around the Jayanagar / Baharu region. When khoi is made from this paddy and mixed with the fresh seasonal nolen gur- its called the lump. This lump is mixed with khoya, cashew nut, raisins and pista and off course ghee…. and moa is borne.
Please check the details on Joynagar Moa in this blog post here
From last year, we have identified this hidden gem at Joynagar named “Khokon Da r Moa”. They take orders via their website (please click here). And once the order is placed, a premium quality gur and/ or Moa is delivered to your doorstep. The shop is adjacent to the Joynagar station and the owner Rajesh Das is an extremely dynamic fellow. He can be reached at 9382854513 / 8016772677. The premium quality Kheer er moa is priced at 230/- for a pack of 10 pcs moa.
The resource, who gets the ras from the trees and makes the gur is named Shiuli. But getting a skilled Shiuli is rare nowadays. Youth are not getting interested in the profession and that can be one of the reasons. As per rumors, talks are going on with the government for making a Moa/ Gur hub, which will encourage more people to learn this trade, and maybe the moa of Nolen gur will exist for a few more years …..
Let me confess, the making process and details about gur, is collected via multiple mediums and folklores. Hence, if you feel me correct anything, please share the knowledge. Till then, share your best gur experience with me in the comment section.
Bon apetit !!!
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