‘Khejur Gur’ or liquid date palm jaggery (made from boiling the sap from date palms) is very popular in Bengal during the winter months. It is also commonly called ‘Notun Gur’ literally, ‘New Jaggery’ or ‘Nolen Gur’. The flavour of the sap is best extracted in winter months and that is the reason we get this ‘gur’ or jaggery around this time. During the summer, night temperatures are high and sap extract ferments by morning, as a result the extract or product fits only as an alcoholic drink.
The liquid ‘Khejur Gur’ is delicious, tastes better than any other syrup and we used to have it poured on our Luchi (Puri) or Roti for dinner or breakfast. It is called ‘Jhola Gur’ (as it is in liquid form) or ‘Tatarosi’ in Bengali. It is also used to make a variety of sweets in Bengal. ‘Khejur Gur’ in solid form is sold in the shape of round discs and is also known as ‘Patali Gur’. Normally we buy this ‘patali’ in winter to preserve and use for rest of the year.
We Bengalis mostly use ‘khejur gur’ for special occasions to make ‘Payesh’. As it is a ritual to serve ‘payesh’ (rice pudding) on Birth Day. As Bengalis consider having ‘Payesh’ on one’s Birthday as auspicious. ‘Payesh’ can also be made with sugar but ‘Khejur Gur er Payesh’ is just heavenly.
It was my Baba’s birthday a few days before so I made this ‘Khejur Gur-er Payesh’ for him. This is how my Maa makes Payesh and she makes the best payesh in the world. Only recently I have learned to make ‘Khejur Gur-er’ Payesh’ from her and so here is my attempt.
- Wash the rice, drain the water and keep aside. Soak almond in water. Then peel and chop. Pour Milk in a thick bottomed boiling pan.
- Lightly pound the green cardamom and add it to the milk. Boil the milk for 5-7 minutes and stir continuously.
- When the Milk become a little thick add the rice. Be careful so that milk does not boil over.Stir continuously.
- Stir and check if the rice is done. You have to keep stirring frequently else the milk might stick to bottom of the pan as it thickens.
- When the rice is cooked add sugar. Adding sugar before the rice cooked hinders it getting cooked properly.
- Now stir the milk continuously so that the milk does not burn or scald at the bottom of the container and the rice does not stick.
- When the Milk has thickened to the right consistency add Nolen Gurer Patali and stir again.
- When the ‘gur’ dissolves completely in the milk take the Payesh off heat and add the kishmis or raisins and chopped cashew nuts.
- Serve warm or cold (room temperature) garnishing with chopped almond.