Thursday, March 01, 2007

'nolen gur'(new jaggery)

undoubtedly, the most important and biggest religious cum social festival for the bengalis is durga puja. but for the food buffs there is a lot of excitement and anticipation in the nolen gur (new jaggery) festival held in late winter during february which is also celebrated with a lot of bonhomie and fervour.

i was very lucky to be in kolkata during this month.rosogollas and sandeshes made out of the new jaggery are absolutely heavenly . and i had them for breakfast,lunch and dinner. admittedly,i have a great weakness for bengali sweets but this time i just went overboard.

in the winter season,earthen pots are tied to date trees and cuts are made in the tree through the night through which the liquid drops and fills the pots.these are then carefully brought down in the early hours of the morning.the liquid is then set on a fire in a 'karai' and allowed to boil. after the top layer or slag is removed what is left is voila!,new jaggery.the slag is converted into solid pieces of date palm jaggery.

as the shelf life of the liquid form is very short, a variety of sweets are made out of this. you have the 'jhol bara','patisapta','nolen gurer rosogolla' and 'nolen gurer sandesh'. these are all made with cow's milk.

one can even directly drink the 'khejur ras' staight on tap i.e. from the tree. in fact,in villages that is what many younsters do.they climb up the tree and merrily drink the 'ras' and tie the pot back. the date palm is a shorter version of the tall coconut tree. it however produces its best sap during winter.interestingly, though the trunk when tapped provides a deliciously sweet syrup,the actual dates are not that tasty at all.

the 'nalen gur' sandesh has a brownish pink colour. the liquid syrup (jhola gur) sells like hot cakes and when had with with hot 'luchis'(puris made out of maida), it is delightful. the poor in the rural areas even use the fermented gur to make cheap liquor. the solid cakes which can be preserved are called 'patali gur' and can be kept for a few months though the taste of sandesh or rosogolla with older cakes is not the same as with the new one .It is used mainly for payesh in bengali homes.

i brought back home a dozen of each-rosogollas and sandesh.little did i realise then that it would not receive that much of welcome as the normal rosogollas and sandesh do. one man's meat need not be the same for another person.


rums said...

i love 'nolen gur'! i'm so jealous uncle!!

gs said...

hello rums
my office colleagues were very helpful. i hardly had any time for venturing into north kolkata for purchasing these beauties.they decided on the shop which shops sell the best 'nolen gurer' rosogollas and sandesh and when i was on my way to the airport my driver told me that "dokane bhalo kore pack kore diyeche!".it was a nobrainer to guess what it was.i thought i was blessed!

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, gs!

You always find such interesting topics to post on! I honestly think, we, your readers benefit so much from your travel and your curiosity.

When I lived in Dubai I would see these little earthern pots sometimes tied to the date palm trees, but I didn't realize that they were collecting date palm nectar...

I know the Sri Lankans do something similar with the coconut palm and make some delicious desserts with the jaggery like "watapalan" etc.

I have a new Bengali friend and I can't wait to tell her what I read here, maybe she'll share some "nolen gur" with me when she receives her share! :)

Lovely post, I so enjoyed reading it!

gs said...

hi rums
friend's envy is owner's(consumer?) pride.mumbai had a 'nolen gur' festival.i am sure you might get it in delhi too,though it is bit my dad used to get south indian paans flown to him whenever he was abroad,you should get special ng sweets flown to you from kol if they are not available in delhi.

gs said...

hello lr
i am very flattered by your comments.a billion thanks.honestly,writing about some of these not so well known subjects gives me a out for "pongala".you would not have imagined what it is.

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