This article is about the syrup derived from the Bengali date palm tree, Phoenix sylvestris, which is processed for use as a sweetener. This sweetener, called khejur gur, is an important item in Bengali gastronomy because of its distinctive aroma and flavor. References to the use of khejur gur and the date palm tree can be found in ancient Sanskrit texts. The trees are tapped in winter, between December and February, a process that requires considerable expertise. The harvested syrup (collected in clay pots suspended from notches cut in the trunk) is boiled down to achieve different consistencies ranging from liquid to solid. Most Bengali confectioners substitute khejur gur for cane sugar in making sweets during the winter months. The undying popularity of khejur gur has also given it a notable presence in the literature and culture of the Bengal region, including the Indian state of West Bengal and the country of Bangladesh.
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Research Article| February 01 2012
A Sweet Fragrance in Winter
chitrita banerji grew up in Calcutta and received her master's degree in English from Harvard University. She is the author of several books on the food and culture of her native India, most recently, Eating India. She has written for Granta, Gourmet, the New York Times, and the Boston Globe, and received awards at the Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery. Currently, she is working on a collection of essays. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Gastronomica (2012) 12 (1): 83–86.
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chitrita banerji; A Sweet Fragrance in Winter. Gastronomica 1 February 2012; 12 (1): 83–86. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/GFC.2012.12.1.83
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