If Bengalis could have a superpower, it would probably be getting the whiff of nolen gur from light years away. Earthen containers tied to date palm trees to catch the sap oozing out—the art of nolen gur is perhaps the most underrated one.
At the crack of dawn, before the sun is properly up, the containers are taken down and the process of making gur or jaggery begins and only the first fetch of juice is good enough for nolen gur.
The nolen gur season spans from the second half of December to the first half of February.
Kolkata might have a fleeting winter but the dip in the mercury brings in a sugar rush, often epitomised by the highly prized seasonal produce.
A woody, caramel flavour—available in two forms patali gur and jhola gur—the winter staple has stood the test of time to a range of new age sweets. Be it the breakfast jalebi first thing in the morning, the mishti do on a lunch date or the classic rosogolla at weddings.
An intrinsic part of the Bengali culture, the golden-brown syrup with its sweet touch of seasonality can be moulded into fusion renditions. Relish the freshly churned out nolen gurer ice cream, the liquid-infused cham cham, or the smoky nolen gurer rosogolla.
Sukumar Ray, the celebrated writer and poet perhaps hit the nail quite right when he said “kintu shobar chaite bhalo, pauruti aar jhola gur.”