The world over people have delicacies and ingredients associated with the place. Here is an ingredient unique to southern India. Its taste, texture and appearance vary from place to place. In Goa it holds pride of place. This is none other than the Goa Jaggery! (Pronounced as ‘jaw-gree’, or ‘God’, in Konkani), a must in almost every Goan delicacy.
What is it?
Jaggery is a sweetener available in local markets in the form of golden yellow or dark brown blocks. There are two types available in Goa. One is from sugarcane juice and the second type is from the sap of the Palmyra palm tree (toddy palm). Both are boiled for hours and the concentrate is poured into moulds to set. Depending on the mould used, you would see jaggery in different shapes like cylindrical blocks, smooth round balls or half spheres. However, in Goa, this takes on a different dark brown pyramid shape, which is extremely special to this State.
Colour and Ageing
Jaggery can also be identified by its colour. The pale gold coloured one is usually used in a few Goan dishes. However most use the dark jaggery. This dark Jaggery gains its colour through the process of aging or curing of the freshly prepared jaggery which over a period of time develops a potently sweet, distinct flavour (deeper and richer than the gold jaggery).
Take a look at this video of the Jaggery production process
Goan dishes and Cooking
Jaggery lasts for a long time without refrigerating. Since it is rock solid, gentle tapping with hammer or a sharp knife results in small pieces and powdered jaggery, that can be stored in containers in a dry place.
Delicacies that are a must have for every Goan :
• Goan Sannas (especially the ones stuffed with freshly scraped coconut and black jaggery)
• Godshe (Goan dessert)
• Khatkhatem (mixed vegetable curry), a speciality for every occasion
• Alle Belle (coconut and Jaggery pancakes)
• Manganem (Sweet Gram)
Besides, the above, we also have the Doce, Dodol, Pinagre, etc. which decorate every feast table.
This ingredient can be used in numerous dishes as a healthier alternative to sugar. It is a ‘must try’ when in Goa and a versatile souvenir to take back home. Some Goans believe that a small piece of black jaggery before breakfast with a glass of water can cure colds and help one stay healthy.