City Food – The World of Gur, Sadar Bazar, Gurgaon
The other sweet.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
There are people who can identify a great number of birds by their names. Some have an encyclopedic insight on butterflies. Others are big on flowers. An environmentalist in Delhi rustled out a book on all the trees found in the city.
And then there are experts on gur.
Most of us who are fond of jaggery see it uniformly as a lumpy brown mass of unrefined sugar. But the world of gur is a cacophonous democracy. Pankaj Traders, a 70-year-old grocery in Gurgaon’s Sadar Bazar in the Greater Delhi Region, stocks half a dozen kinds of jaggery. This afternoon they are neatly arranged outside the shop’s counter. One variety is encrusted with peanuts. Another is heart-shaped. The most impressive is looking like a little mound of earth.
“This range is available only in winters,” shouts grocer Pankaj Gupta from behind the counter. He is busy with a nonstop stream of customers. The rest of the year the shop is left with only two varieties, he points out, adding that Delhi region gets its gur from towns in UP such as Muzaffarnagar and Murad Nagar.
Meanwhile, the shop’s jaggery corner is getting steady patrons. Strangely, not one customer is able to name these varieties. They are selecting the gur by simply pointing out their choice to the shop assistants who too don’t know the names. Finally, Mr Gupta excuses himself from the counter and walks out towards the jaggery stack.
Starting clockwise from right, he names all of them in a single breath as if reciting the many names of god—pedi, batasha, papri, moongphali, chaku, dahiya, paneer.
Rushing back to his post, he warns that these varieties, each with a distinct flavour, shall last from December to March. After which, the city will again be reduced to a jaggery drought.
Death by jaggery