What’s winter without nolen gur ? Grandma would ruminate. I am in my kitchen, bathed in streaks of golden sunshine, waiting patiently for my Darjeeling to brew.
Tubes of nolen gur stand on the kitchen counter, a disciplined regiment of red soldiers, a marvel of preservation technology that now allows us the sinful pleasure of nolen gur for just a couple of months longer.
Grandma would have been so thrilled, I reflect as I return decades back to the courtyard of our Korimganj house, the gnarled guava tree, the cantankerous parakeets, the fluttering butterflies, the boisterous army of village lads at their game of cricket on a mellow winter morning.
An earthen pitcher proudly stands in front of Grandma. Filled to the brim with a gorgeous golden black liquid.
Nolen Gur, she proudly declares to a curious nine year old me, jaggery from the date palm. Nectar of the Gods, my grandfather would say, she continues, and not without reason.
Grandma swirls the gur in the pitcher with a ladle. Frowns at Ratan Kaka. The consistency is getting thinner every year. Doesn’t quite taste the same as before.
She allows a couple of drops of gur to drip from the spoon onto my cupped palm. Smell the gur, my Princess. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. This is the perfume of Mother Earth.
I do exactly as instructed. Secretly basking in the pleasure of being treated as a grown-up. The fragrance of the gur sends my olfactory nerves to an ecstatic high.
I dip a finger into the puddle of nolen gur on my palm, now threatening ominously to spill over my palm and spoil my favorite pink dress, and stick it to my mouth.
Heaven. The fragrant woody smoky caramelized flavor of the gur leaves my taste buds stunned.
Not wanting to waste even a drop of the nectar, I lick the last vestiges of the gur off my palm.
An action Grandma would on any other day oppose vehemently.
Today she smiles.
Back to my tubes of nolen gur.
And a Nolen Gurer Bhapa Sandesh is what I yearn for this morning. A mellifluous symphony of chhana and nolen gur. Steamed to perfection on a languorous flame.
Ridiculously simple. Just like my Golap Kachagolla. Yet divine.
I absolutely adore my Nolen Gurer Bhapa Sandesh. I can guarantee you too shall.
Nolen Gurer Bhapa Sandesh (Steamed Cottage Cheese Fudge with Date Palm Jaggery)
- paneer or homemade chhana prepared from 2 lit of milk
- 3 tbsp nolen gur or liquid date palm jaggery
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder or plain flour
- ghee for greasing
- Take the chhana and arrowroot powder in a flat surface and knead it with the heel of your palm. About 4-5 minutes or so till your palm is almost oily.
- Now add the gur to the chhana, mix well and continue to knead for another 5 minutes, the gur is completely incorporated into the chhana and the mix is smooth (This recipe is all about kneading the chhana, a bit of patience makes a colossal difference :-)) (If you like it sweeter, feel free to indulge - add some more gur !!)
- Take a steel container with a tight lid, grease with very little ghee.
- Gently spread the chhana mixture onto the greased container, make the top even with a spatula. Close the lid.
- Place the container in a steamer, steam for 15-20 minutes. Switch off the flame, allow to stand on the stove for another 10 odd minutes.
- Once the container has cooled to room temperature, leave it in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
- Remove from the refrigerator, use a sharp knife to cut them into 1 inch squares. Serve chilled.