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Dessert I Nolen Gur & Coconut Milk Panna Cotta

I was perhaps six years old when I first tasted Nolen Gur. The memory o my mother sitting on the dining chair eating hot phulkas with lashings of home-made ghee and a bowl of molten jaggery is still so vividly etched.

I remember the caramelly smell of the molasses and that steel bowl that seemed to be bottomless as my mother would scoop out the liquid into a piece of the hot roti and seem to be enjoying each mouthful.

Ofcourse, the curious kitty that I was (read am), I wanted to have what my mother was having. I was given my own tiny bowl and a phulka to try the delicacy. Gur Pak my grandmother called it. The gorgeous amber liquid was just a tiny bit warm, enough to let it drip down on the ghee-laden phulka and onto my fingers. I remember feel all warm and fuzzy inside and lapping my bowlful of this gorgeous jaggery and then asking for more.

Only one bowl a day, I was told. It had to be rationed you see, since this jaggery was available only in the winters. Plus my grandmother would make this kickass south Indian style payasam that the jaggery only seemed to make it better.

Much later did I learn that what I had enjoyed as a childhood memory, was nothing but Nolen Gur, or Date Palm jaggery. Patali gur - the solid version of the liquid gold Nolen Gur, often sneaks its way into my kitchen as a present every now and then.

This time around Deeba gave me a nice chunk of patali gur that her husband had lugged back with him from his trip to Calcutta. She ofcourse made this beautiful Nolen Gur Rice Kheer but I wanted to make a dessert that screamed east meets west.

Rummaging through my pantry I found some gelatin, some coconut milk and a box of cream. It was as if a panna cotta was calling it out to me.

I decided to flavour it with a bit of cardamom, because according to me jaggery, coconut and cardamom are a match made in heaven.

This recipe is super simple. You can make it the night before and then if you'd like add the additional jaggery jelly on top to make it a two layered sublime dessert. Or you can drizzle a bit of the liquid nolen gur to give it an amazing fudge like texture. I added a bit of coconut flakes to it before serving, but just plain will also be wonderful.

I had to make this dessert twice over to be able to photograph it, because everytime I'd let it sit in the refrigerator, it'd disappear. But truly, it's that good.

Nolen Gur & Coconut Milk Panna Cotta
Serves 6

For the Panna cotta
200 ml  low fat cream
200 ml coconut milk
1/4 cup date palm jaggery/nolen gur/patali gur
a pinch of salt
2 cardamom pods crushed
2 tblsps gelatin (if using agar agar use double the amount i.e. 4 tsp)
2 tblsps water

For the jaggery jelly
3 tblsp jaggery
3 tblsp water
1 tsp gelatin


1. Soak the gelatin in the water until it blooms. Set aside.
2. In a saucepan add the cream, salt, cardamom pods and nolen gur and bring it to a boil. Mix well and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the gas.
3. Add the coconut milk and stir it it all mixes well.
4. Once the gelatin has bloomed, microwave for 20 seconds in two intervals. Pour the melted gelatin into the cream and coconut mixture.Stir well.
5. Strain the mix into the moulds and let it sit in the refrigerator to set for atleast 2 hours.

For the jaggery jelly

1. Soak the gelatin in the water until it blooms. Set aside.
2. In a saucepan melt the jaggery with the water until it completely dissolves.
3. Once the gelatin has bloomed, microwave for 20 seconds in two intervals. Pour the melted gelatin into melted jaggery.
4. Strain into the set panna cotta and let it set for 1 hour before serving.

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