Jaggery and gur are both types of raw, unrefined, sugar. The two terms are often confused but the end result is a natural unprocessed sugar that you can use in various types of cuisine.
Jaggery is made from raw cane sugar and gur is made from palm sugar (traditionally, the date palm is used but the coconut and sago palms are also used to produce gur).
Jaggery and gur are both made by simmering the sugar cane syrup (or palm sap) in large pots until the sugar hardens. Both types of sugar are usually sold in blocks (that can be bought from your local Indian supply shop) – the darker the colour of jaggery, the better.
The preparation process does not use any chemicals and retains a lot of natural mineral salts (which are lost when traditional sugar refining takes place).
Both jaggery and gur are used in Indian cooking, in sweet and savoury dishes. The most obvious uses are to make candy or to add to dal in order to give the dish a good flavour balance.
Here’s a recipe for a delicious jaggery caramelised walnut.
100g (3 ½ oz) jaggery
50g (2 oz) walnut halves (with the shell removed)
Gently heat the jaggery in a small pan, stirring often, until the jaggery has melted
Add the walnut halves to the pan and mix well so that the walnuts are well coated with the jaggery
Quickly pour the walnuts and jaggery onto baking paper and spread evenly with a knife
Let the jaggery cool
Break into bite-sized pieces
Store in an airtight container
Simple and delicious.