Jaggery Keeps People Warm In Sindh's Winters

Jaggery Keeps People Warm In Sindh's Winters
As the temperature continues to drop in rural areas of Sindh, people are turning back to traditional foods to keep themselves warm and avoid viral infections that usually erupt in winter such as flu and bad cough. By the passage of time, people in these areas have learnt that natural remedies are the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle instead of taking medicines in every situation.

Traditional foods not only provide preventive benefits, but are also a source of energy, and more importantly are easy to digest. To brave the bleak cold, people in Thatta Sujawal, Badin and Tando Muhammad Khan are consuming Jaggery Gur in different ways to keep themselves warm – along with sweet potatoes, chicken soup and red sugar cane.

"The process of making Jaggery – also known as Gurr in local parlance – is like cracking a hard Nut," says Allah Bachayo, a 65-year-old farmer of Sujawal. The first step is to cut ripe sugarcane plants and bring them to the processing facility where juice is extracted and peels preserved for burning. In the past, bull-powered machines were used for extracting sugarcane juice. Now, more efficient engine-run machines have replaced bulls. Sugarcane juice is filtered with a thin net., poured into a pot and placed on the fire. After boiling it for a specified time, a little amount of bleaching powder is added to it so that impurities in the sugarcane juice may be separated. While boiling it, the sugarcane juice is continuously shaken and stirred with a wooden stick so that it does not burn.

In the village, people have jaggery for breakfast, as well as other items made of it. "We have Busri," – referring to a flat bread made of Jaggery along with butter and cream – says a villager Muhammad Sachal. He adds that during winter as well as the rainy season, people in villages enjoy rice made of Jaggery and eat it with baked fish or home-made pickle. When the weather turns chilly, villagers enjoy jaggery-sweetened tea in bowls by sitting around a fire.

There is a also a traditional dish made with the blend of jaggery and wheat-flour in rural areas of Thatta and Sujawal, and it is locally known as "Lapai.” Its taste doubles if had with milk.

Doctors, for their part, have warned of adverse impact on health in case of extensive consumption of Jaggery.

Dr. Adnan Aziz, while sharing the side effects of excessive consumption of Jaggery, says that sometimes it affects the digestive system of the human body if used during winters uncontrollably. He further says that it also leads to obesity and rise in blood sugar levels.

"Our previous generations were accustomed to harder physical labour, and for them jaggery was a healthy food. But since our current generation spends most of its time sitting on chairs in offices, they should avoid extensive use of Gurr," Dr. Aziz says.

Nevertheless, he encourages the use of Jaggery insofar as it replaces sugar. “Jaggery is a natural sweetener and is beneficial to health in many ways,” he says.

The author is a practicing lawyer and freelance journalist. His areas of interest are cultural diversity and socio-political issues of Sindh.