Jaggery: The Healthy Sugar

- October 5, 2023

By Shakthi Bharathi 

According to Ayurveda, there are six tastes known as the ‘rasas’. Each rasa plays its own role in boosting health and influencing the taster’s mood. Thus, the perfect meal has to contain all six rasas: salty, sweet, pungent, sour, bitter, and astringent.  

India, known for its festive sweets as much as its strong spices, is the world’s second largest producer of sugarcane. From the sugarcane bow that Kamadeva wields as a weapon, to the dahi-cheeni mixture eaten before starting something important, sugar is considered a divine ingredient that brings about good luck. 

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Jaggery in the styles of Warli (Maharashtra), Sanjhi (Uttar Pradesh), and Kalamkari (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana); Illustration: Anjali Narendra

Long ago, in the days before white sugar, our teeth knew the crunch of jaggery. This gravelly, brown sugar is made from sugarcane juice and the sap of palm trees. With its minimal processing and earthy sweetness, jaggery proves that health and taste can go hand-in-hand. Be it creamy payasam, rich halwa, or simple black tea—a crumble of jaggery can elevate just about anything. 

Did you know? 

Jaggery has many names: ‘gul’ in Marathi, ‘bellam’ in Telugu, ‘gur’ in Hindi, ‘sharkara’ in Malayalam, and the list goes on. Truly a pan-Indian treat! 

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Rabindranath Tagore

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