Jaggery Rice (Gur Walay Chawal)
2020 is coming!!! Another Gregorian year is about to end and 2020 will begin soon, not that these things matter, just stating the obvious. Hopefully past 358 days have been progressive and peaceful and I pray that days ahead bring joy, tranquility and prosperity Ameen. With the passage of time we grow in so many ways, besides age (we aren’t Benjamin Button!). Our perspectives, opinions, goals, horizon, knowledge and understanding regarding different aspects of life change. When it comes to food, my personal taste and preferences have taken an unexpected turn which I would refer to as a more developed and refined palate which appreciates simple and explicit food (in other words, easy to prepare and easy to digest food) like this particular recipe, Gurr walay chawal or jaggery rice.
As a kid I wasn’t fond of most traditional desserts like zarda, mutanjan or jaggery rice aka gur walay chawal and I never ever tried or paid attention to how they were made. To me these were fancy and different names for sweetened rice. How naïve of me. And now I understand how unique these recipes are, how a simple cooking technique would change the whole dish and what wonders few ingredients can create. This recipe has only five ingredients (including water) and each ingredient is distinctive and has a particular role.
Here are the ingredients and their significance for perfect gur rice
- Gur is Urdu name for jaggery. It is an unrefined product made with sugar cane. Sugar cane is pressed and its juice is rested so that impurities would settle at the bottom. It is then strained, stirred and boiled until most moisture is evaporated and paste like dough is remaining. This paste can be shaped but traditionally and locally it looks like irregular round-ish pieces. Addition of nuts is optional. Since sugar cane is processed during winter, gur is made during the same season which makes gur rice more of a winter treat although it is perfectly acceptable to make it any time of the year. Depending on the process of gur making, it color could vary from light golden to dark brown. Gur rice will be as good as the gur used to make them. I prefer using gur that has nuts already in it but plain gur can be used and nuts can (can not be) added.
- Water is required in very less quantity only to melt gur so it won’t get burnt.
- Rice are par boiled and then simmered in melted gur. Use any good quality, long grain rice. Sella and basmati are both excellent options. I prefer basmati.
- Desi Ghee is preferred but ghee (clarified butter) or cooking oil or butter can also be used. Ghee keeps rice from clumping due to high sugar content and also keeps rice fresh.
- Green Cardamoms are gently sauted in melted desi ghee to enhance the aroma of the rice. Cloves and cinnamon sticks can also be used but personally I only like to add cardamom only.
There is an idiom in Urdu, jitna gur dalo gay utna metha ho ga which roughly means it would be as sweet as the amount of jaggery added but this doesn’t apply here for the recipe. Strictly, gur and rice are used in equal amount in terms of weight. Weigh both ingredients, not measure because gur is in irregular shape and can’t be properly measured by volume.
Traditionally it is served slightly warm with thick cream (balai or malai in Urdu) and I have seen people topping these rice with thick, naturally sweet yogurt too.
Jaggery Rice (Gur Rice/ Gur Walay Chawal)
A flavorful and fragrant rice dessert which require few ingredients to tantalize your taste buds.
- 350 gm gur/ jaggery, broken in to smaller pieces I used gur that has nuts added
- ¼ cup water
- 350 gm long grain basmati rice, soaked for about 15 minutes
- ¼-⅓ cup desi ghee or ghee or cooking oil
- 3 pods green cardamoms, slightly crushed
In a small, heavy bottom sauce pan or pot, combine gur/jaggery with water. Do not stir.
Cover and place on stove over low flame.
Let jaggery/gur melt. Do not stir just sway the pot. About 5-7 minutes depending on the quality and size of gur pieces.
In a medium pot boil roughly one litre of water.
Add soaked rice when water boils and let rice par boil. Make sure rice isn't fully cooked.
Strain rice and let water drain.
Clean the pot in which rice are boiled, add desi ghee and place over medium flame.
Add in crushed cardamoms and saute for about 10-15 seconds or till fragrant.
Carefully pour in the melted jaggery/gur.
Bring to a gentle boil and add in strained rice.
Give it a good stir and cook for about a minute over medium flame to bring everything to a boiling point.
Cover the pot and lower the flame to simmer.
Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until all the moisture is absorbed and rice are fully cooked.
Serve warm with thick cream.
I used gur with nuts but plain gur can also be used.
Good quality gur and rice are essential for good taste.
Cooking time may vary depending on the rice type.
Once done, rice should be fully cooked and there should be no moisture. If rice seem wet, stir, cover the pot and simmer for few more minutes.