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Jaggery (pronounced jag-uh-ree) is a hugely popular sugar in South and Southeast Asia. Jaggery is a healthy alternative to the usual white refined sugar. It is slightly less sweet than maple syrup, similar sweetness to honey and with its boasting rich, brown sugar-like flavour, jaggery is worth getting to know.
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Coming from the state of Maharashtra in India which is the largest producer and consumer of Jaggery, it has been part of our lives since birth. Jaggery is naturally processed from the juice of sugar cane or sap of palm trees, without the use of any chemicals. Jaggery retains all its minerals (including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and iron and traces of zinc and copper) during processing. There are no artificial chemicals or additives added to it. Without the anti-caking agents, it appears lumpy which break easily enough on touch.
In Ayurvedic medicine, Jaggery has been used as a medicinal sugar for a millennium. In traditional Indian households Jaggery has been used not only as a sweetener but also as a digestive after a heavy meal, a cleansing agent during cold and flu to get rid of the nasties and as energy food in small quantities. As children, we would get a marble sized ball of Jaggery as a reward for doing the house chores or homework.
In India, Jaggery is predominantly used in making desserts but is also added to savoury dishes to round off the flavours. Absolutely mouth-watering!