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Thursday, 5 March 2009

My Newly Adopted Sugar!

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Oh my dear readers…I haven’t abandoned you, no! There hasn’t been a single day since my last post that I haven’t thought about you. My new job has been taking all of my time. I haven’t had any time for myself at all. I’ve just been cooking basics, repeating the dishes over and over again every week. Hhhhh!

I spend 3 hours a day in commuting to and from work everyday and I am considering of moving closer to my workplace now as I think I’ll be working there longer than I expected, which is good! Very good indeed! I like the job!

The only new food I’ve tried lately is jaggery (also called goor or gur). You most probably have seen this on other blogs. It is very popular in sweet Indian dishes, desserts, cakes. It is an unrefined sugar made from sugarcane; it is also known as the medicinal sugar and can be used to treat lung and throat infections (more on Wikipedia). I wonder why I’ve never seen this in Mauritius where they make sugar from sugarcane. Although, I kind of remember seeing something like it a long time ago while I was still little. But anyway, I had never had it before and have seen it in Indian shops over here in Dublin. So, I decided to give it a try after having read a lot of good things about it on sites/blogs that I haven’t bookmarked (oops!) and how they manufacture it (on this blog).

This form of unrefined (therefore healthier) sugar is much tastier than brown or demerara sugar; so delicious and fudgy that I’m founding myself eating chunks of it like a little sweet treat instead of chocolate! Jaggery is like a little indulgence by itself!

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Jaggery can be grated, sliced or crushed then used as normal sugar in cakes, desserts or even beverages.

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I am pretty excited to try a lot of recipes using this magical sugar, if I may say! For my first recipe, I made this jelly with rice water and mango pieces. Rice water? I don’t own a rice cooker. In consequence, I pour off the excess water from the rice after boiling. I feel quite guilty chucking away all this nutritious rice water, so I’ve decided to start saving it for other uses like soups, thickening sauces. Well, I decided to make this jelly using this water and some agar agar flakes.

The recipe is very simple, although I don’t exactly know how to measure the agar agar flakes. I bought them at the Chinese store over here and they come in long strips. I just hold the whole bunch of strips and cut off about 2-3 cm or 1 inch. If I were to scrunch the strips up, I think they might fit in something like 2 levelled tablespoons. Well, you’ll have to experiment a bit to get the right consistency and they will never be the same anyway as it’s almost impossible to get the exact amount of agar agar every time (except if you use the powdered one).

So here’s the recipe.

Rice Water and Mango Jelly

Ingredients (2 – 3 servings, depending on portion size)

rice water (mine was somewhat thick, from sushi rice)
1 cup water
½ cup soy milk (or rice milk)
Small bunch of agar agar flakes
4 tablespoons grated jaggery
½ teaspoon vanilla essence, preferably non-alcoholic (optional)
½ mango, peeled and sliced

  • Place mango pieces in a non-stick pan with 2 tablespoons jaggery. Cook for a few minutes until jaggery is melted and mango is slightly softer.
  • Remove from heat and arrange in a bowl/dish.
  • Place water in a saucepan with agar agar flakes. Boil until agar agar flakes are well dissolved.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and bring to the boil.
  • Remove from heat as soon as liquid reaches the first boil and pour over mangoes in dish.
  • Allow to cool and set in a quiet place.
  • Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or until firm) before turning over and serving.

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