in search of jaggery

We had the most amazing chicken dish at my sister’s house yesterday! It was a Cambodian recipe fried in jaggery (palm sugar). There were many other delights as well – a ripe mango salad with grilled shrimps, a hot hot hot Vietnamese pork in fish sauce dish, red pepper and peanut salad, rice, grilled pineapple…. But it was the chicken in palm sugar that we really wanted to try again immediately.

So this afternoon, we put on our big boots and slogged through the snow and slush to various likely shops nearby. We were certain that one of the Jamaican stores would have jaggery. But shop after shop – a headshake; a confused look; a wide-eyed where have you tasted that so you know to ask for it?; a resigned sigh of no. We decided to give up and just before heading home, went into the Indian grocery store to get some green chilies and bananas. On an offchance, we asked casually, if they had jaggery. I love the inscrutable look on the face of Indians. No surprise at whitebread-looking-Canadians asking for jaggery. Just a “yes – next aisle – I’ll show you.” And beautiful soft stuff it is too!

When we got home, I stole a little piece to taste – it’s like the best plain fudge! And now the kitchen smells of garlic and jaggery and chicken. We’re going to have the chicken with stirfried green beans & salted roasted peanuts (no sugar to balance out the flavours) and plenty of rice. I might even break down and have a glass of dark beer. I can’t wait for dinner!

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  • Barbara

    So … how was it? I’m going to try the jaggery from an Indian store instead of palm sugar from a Chinese store next time. The palm sugar I have was quite hard when I got it, and it is very hard now that it’s been out of the package a while.

  • ejm

    It was fantastic, Barbara! We added a few chopped up fresh green chillies as a garnish. And the juxtaposition of the stirfried beans and peanuts (in oyster sauce) was perfect. In fact the dinner was so good that we are going to have it again on Saturday! – ejm (aka llizard)