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Palm jaggery is almost like a jaggery that is made out of sugarcane juice. Palm jaggery is made from the extract of Palm Trees in Southern India. These trees are also known as Toddy palm trees or Palmyra trees . The Jaggery is processed from the unfermented Palmyra tree sap calledneera in kannada language. It is highly priced due to its medicinal properties. It has an intense, earthy taste or reminiscent of chocolates in its taste.

The palm jaggery obtained after processing is darker and richer in colour. It is slight salty to taste but much healthier of the two. Due to its cooling effects over human body, it is of high value. It does not have the bone meal content which is used for whitening processed sugar. The price of the palm jaggery is double that of sugar.

The first extract of the palm juice which is boiled at high temperatures, is being added with a little salt. The added salt then acts as a preservative. This also prevents the jaggery from becoming too sweet. When it gets cooled, it is poured into a long cone made of palm leaves. The preservation of the final product is done by wrapping the cone with rice straws. At home, the consumers finely slice the cone, so that the jaggery is cut into disc shapes leaving a palm ribbon around its edges. Some families simply dry the extracted palm juice on mats. Others do it on lime floors called the kobas . After it dries, the jaggery is being stored in an air-tight container which preserves it for nearly one year.

People of northern and western India prefer the sugarcane jaggery. But the people of the South, especially the South Kanara district, will not see beyond palm jaggery when it comes to adding this sweet flavoring agent to their home made sweet dishes. In Kannada language, the localites of the south kanara district call itOle Bella.

Palm jaggery is quite popular in the Southern states of Tamil Nadu (called Karupatti vellam or pana vellam), Karnataka (it is called thaati bella in some places and Olebella in Mangalore, which is believed to be the best), Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

In the south Indian families of the coastal region of Mangalore and also the Keralites of the Malabar coast, palm jaggery has a big role. It is used in the preparation of delicacies like payasams and neyyai appams. Mangaloreans use the same to prepare puddings and sweets. In temples, it is distributed with banana, or a bit of coconut, as prasadam . In the Calcutta city of West Bengal state, it is an important ingredient in sweets like Payeesh, Nalan gurer sandesh and Nalan gurer moa.

Usefulness of Palm jaggery

  • Palm Jaggery is rich in calcium, iron and other useful vitamins and minerals.
  • One of the tastiest and healthy products. It is used in the preparation of sweet dishes.
  • The medicinal properties in it makes it a unique product that can be used by people of all ages.
  • It may be used sufficiently by people who suffer from diabetes.
  • Panakam or Juice is prepared by adding black pepper and palm jaggery, to a glass of water. Sometimes a pinch of cardomom(elaichi) is also added to get a good flavor and taste.
  • In the South Kanara district region, most of the time it is given to women who give birth to a child. If the mixture of powdered palm jaggery and black jeera are given to such women, then impurities in the breast milk would disappear and baby gets the white and clean milk during breast feeding. Even in the case of milking cows, the same thing is repeated after it gives birth to a calf.

Beware of adulterated jaggery

Palm jaggery utilization has spread to the East and West Bengal and the consumption is more in cities of the Bihar state, too. Like most other commodities, the commercial production of jaggery has also been corrupted by the lime addition to create it in larger volumes. In the Southern states, the consumer need not fear of such adulterations, because most families are having the palm plantations. They make their palm jaggery production, at their own houses. They use only the first extract of the palm juice, for this purpose.

Mangaloreans expect the basic ingredients to be available to them all the time. They are discerning eaters. So, they depend on Mangalore stores that have mushroomed all over India. All these stores provide them with Palm jaggery which is finally in the form of hard discs. The sweet dish, payasam prepared at home does not taste good for these people without the palm jaggery.

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