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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Karupatti: Value-added Jaggery

karupatti vellam jaggery palm sugar unrefined

I remember the days when my mom rarely used refined white sugar. When I was about Ana's age, she used to add naattu chakkarai (jaggery) to coffee and tea, and anything else she can get away with.

Of course, all that has changed now, but, still her preferred sweetener is some form of jaggery. Every time she visits me, she'd insist on having a big hard ball of jaggery from the Indian store which she would chip away with hammer as needed for use.

One of the drinks I remember from childhood is Panakam, a watery concoction made with jaggery and pepper, served on special occasions. Panakam with Neer More were offerings on Rama Navami, if I remember right. Now, Neer More is another favorite drink - basically watered down churned buttermilk, salted, with grated ginger, curry leaves and some tempering. On a blazing hot day, this makes an ideal thirst quencher. But, I am digressing...

As far as I know jaggery can come from sugar cane or palm tree, and they each have distinct tastes. Because of the olden way of preparing where sand and dirt are not strained away, commercial jaggery tends to be gritty with particles that foul up the mouth-feel, and thus has not been top on my list of favorites. However, since my mom has the patience, melting and straining once or twice as needed, I have begun to enjoy it more nowadays.

My dad is especially fond of this Karupatti shown in the picture, which is jaggery with a few added ingredients like black pepper and ginger, believed to be a good home-remedy for coughs, colds and throat ailments. I like the sharp hot taste coming through the rich flavor of jaggery.

As my visit to India is coming to a close, I know I haven't even scratched the surface of local delicacies and indigenous treasures, but, c'est la vie... There's always the next time...


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  • At 8:41 PM, Blogger Several tips said…

    Yes. It is great.

  • At 3:00 AM, Blogger Parita said…

    Wow jaggery with added pepper and giner? this is new to me..thanks for sharing

  • At 2:02 PM, Blogger Cynthia said…

    I love that this has ginger and black pepper in it.

  • At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My MIL packs one box of karuppati in our luggage every visit and I happily give it to my friends who love this stuff. May be I should try panakkam drink .Last time I drank this was at my chithi's wedding 3 decades back : )


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