Sweetest ever Marayur jaggery gets GI tag: This labour of love will move you!

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New Delhi | Published: March 18, 2019 11:58:53 AM

For those who want to buy this jaggery, you can check out prices online or get in touch with the Marayoor Forest Development agencies that have been entrusted with the task of marketing the jaggery and ensuring that the cultivators get a fair price.

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In southern India, a familiar adage goes like this, ‘A sambar made without adding sharkara at the end is no sambar at all.’ From great grandmothers to grandmothers who have passed on this nugget of culinary wisdom to their daughters, the importance of jaggery or ‘sharkara’, as the southern part of the country calls it, cannot be undermined. For the same reason, the Marayur jaggery, which has recently clinched the GI tag, serves as a big boost to the traditional units that have worked in the business for decades.

The quality of this jaggery is so well known that most Kerala temples use the Marayur sharkara as part of their traditional ceremonies and rituals. However, the shelf life of the famed Marayur sharkara is about three months or perhaps more if one keeps it refrigerated.

Similarly,a traditional Kerala sadhya (traditional feast) showcases jaggery-coated plantain chips, also known as sharkaraperatti, as a must-have item along with other food items. This ‘sharkaraperrati’ or jaggery coated chips lends sweetness and a slight crackle to your senses when you bite into the first morsel. It simply melts off your tongue.

Churning the thick jaggery liquid using heavy iron spatulas until it begins to resemble molten gold is a labor of love in itself. The traditional units that create this jaggery do not work in fancy, air-conditioned environments. Several generations of jaggery makers work in these thatched units to create the sweetest ever jaggery. A thatched shed is probably the only luxury that these traditional units can boast of.

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Wondering how the Marayur jaggery is made? To start with, sugar cane juice is heated in a gigantic vessel, boiled and then condensed to leave you with the thick, high-quality jaggery sugar balls. Most of those who are involved in making this jaggery are known to belong to the Muthuva tribe. What makes this jaggery unique is that there are no chemicals at all and it is pure in every process of its making. There is not even a hint of salt, which is again what makes this famed sharkara one of its kind.

The unique geographical location of Marayur, nestled in the forests of the Western Ghats has succeeded in giving its sugarcane a distinct geographical identity, besides the age-old traditional method by which it is churned and prepared by people. According to details provided on the Kerala Forests Department website, there are about 2500 acres of land for sugar cane cultivation.

Around 40 km from the picturesque hill station of Munnar, you can find your way to the rain shadow village location of Marayur in Tamil Nadu. Believe it or not, the scent of sandalwood is sure to lift your senses and transport you to an idyllic place. Indeed, this is the first heady sensation you are bound to experience when you visit the place.

For those who want to buy this jaggery, you can check out prices online or get in touch with the Marayoor Forest Development agencies that have been entrusted with the task of marketing the jaggery and ensuring that the cultivators get a fair price.

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