Monday, January 14, 2019

Moumita's Nolen Gur er Cake -- eggless Date Palm Jaggery cake for Sankranti

Nolen Gur Cake
Photo Credit: Moumita

Khejur Gur (liquid date palm jaggery -- made from boiling the sap from date palms) is very popular in Bengal during the winter months. It is also commonly called "Notun Gur" ( literally, "new jaggery") or "Nolen Gur".

During the cold season from December to February, the sap of the date palms is best harvested and that is the reason we get this gur or jaggery around this time. If you are in rural Bengal during the winter months, and you happen to stroll across the damp fields on a foggy morning, you will see palm trees with a afro-top hair rising like sentinels across the mist. And if you hear closely, you will hear the tip-tip of the sweet sap dripping into the earthen pots hanging just below the palm fronds. The night before, tappers have scaled the thorny trunk of the tree, to tie those pots there.

That sap is pure nectar and when boiled for hours over a wooden fire, it changes color and form to shape into our favorite Nolen Gur or Khejur Gur -- a jaggery synonymous with every Bengali's winter.

The liquid Khejur Gur is delicious, tastes better than Maple Syrup and we used to have it poured on our Luchi (Puri) or Roti for dinner or breakfast. In solid form it is sold in the shape of oval discs and is also known as "Patali Gur" or "Notun Gur". This new jaggery harvested only in the winter months is used to make a variety of sweets in Bengal like "notun gur er sondesh" or "khejur gur er roshogolla".  Ahh, the nolen gur er sondesh is so divine that if you taste it even once, the memory lingers on your tongue forever.

The whole sweet thing, reaches a crescendo during Poush Sankranti when Date Palm jaggery, Coconut and rice flour is used to make a variety of pulis and pithes across the breadth and width of the state

Some of the most popular ones being Gokul Pithe, Khejur Gur er Paayesh, and Pati Shapta.




Now since I was not too keen on making any of the above, this year I decided to celebrate sankranti with Nolen Gur er Cake. It has Khejur Gur plus coconut, that is 75% of Sankranti requirements being met. So, why not, new traditions?

The cake recipe comes from my friend Moumita (of the Kochu Paata Chingri fame), who had made this last month. Her cake was fantastic and we had devoured it in no time.

I took her recipe and added my little nuances which is my habit. However, her cake had more of the Date Palm jaggery flavor. In my recipe, I also added some dates, which made the cake very fluffy and moist but the dates  kind of masked the  delicate flavor of the Date Palm jaggery.

Sharing both versions here





Moumita's Nolen Gur er Cake (Version 1)

Dates and such

Khejur Gur/Date Palm Jaggery -- 3/4th Cup
Coconut ~ 1/2 Cup (grated)
Cardamom powder ~ a pinch
Slivered Almonds ~ 3 tbsp

Wet Ingredients

Milk ~ 3/4th Cup

Oil ~ 1/2 Cup

Dry Ingredients

AP Flour ~ 1.5 Cup
Baking Soda ~ 3/4th tsp
Baking Powder ~ 3/4th tsp

How Moumita Did it

Preheat oven to 350F

In a blender add
jaggery + milk
1/2 Cup of grated coconut
Make a smooth mix.

Sift
1.5 Cup of AP Flour
3/4 tsp of baking Soda
3/4 tsp of Baking Powder
*AP = All Purpose. Can be substituted with Maida

In a wide mouthed bowl add the
jaggery+milk+coconut mix from the blender

Add
1/2 Cup of oil

Add the flour mix gradually, mixing as you go.
Add 1 tbsp of chopped cashews or walnuts.
Add a punch of of Elaichi powder

Mix gently to make a smooth batter.

Now grease a bundt pan or a 8" round pan Pour the batter in this pan. Add slivered almonds on the top

 Bake till a toothpick comes out clean. Should around 30-35 minutes. Baking time may vary.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream as my friend does.



Nolen gur er Cake with Dates and Date Palm Jaggery (Version 2)

Dates and such

Pitted Dates ~ 8-10

Khejur Gur/Date Palm Jaggery -- 1/2 Cup

Coconut ~ 1/2 Cup (grated)

Wet Ingredients

Milk ~ 1 Cup

Oil ~ 1/2 Cup

Dry Ingredients

AP Flour ~ 1.5 Cup
Baking Soda ~ 3/4th tsp
Baking Powder ~ 3/4th tsp


How I Did It

Soak the dates in warm milk for 3-4 hours and then nuked it for a minute.

Preheat oven to 350F

In a blender add
dates + milk
Make a smooth mix.

To the same blender jar, now add
1/2 Cup of Jaggery
1/2 Cup of Coconut
Make a smooth mix.

Add 1/2 Cup of Oil and mix once more

Sift
1.5 Cup of AP Flour
3/4th tsp of baking Soda
3/4th tsp of baking Powder

*AP = All Purpose. Can be substituted with Maida


Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, mixing gradually

Add 2 tbsp of chopped walnuts or pecans
Mix gently to make a smooth batter.

Now grease a bundt pan. Pour the batter in this pan and bake till a toothpick comes out clean. Mine was done in 30-35 minutes, but I had a silicone pan. You can also use a regular 8" cake pan instead of a bundt pan. Baking time may vary.

Serve with drizzle of liquid Khejur Gur.



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