Try These Refreshing Molasses-Sweetened Bengali Treats

Photo: Gabriela Bertolini, Shutterstock
Photo: Gabriela Bertolini, Shutterstock

Though you may be accustomed to consuming molasses in baked goods like gingerbread, the dark, flavourful sweetener can be used to make many other delicious treats.

For folks from Bangladesh, molasses is known as “goor.” There are three popular types of goor, and connoisseurs can spot them by colour alone. Depending on how robust the international section of your grocery store is, you should be able to find all three of the following types of molasses locally. If not, you can always purchase them in their solid form online, then heat the molasses on the stove over low heat to liquify. (Purchasing options are linked below).

The first type of molasses is a syrup that is left over after the first boiling cycle of sugarcane juice, and it is the lightest of the bunch. Known as “aaker goor,” this kind of molasses generally tastes very sweet, and is commonly used as a syrup for pancakes and waffles, or as a dip for fresh fruit — a perfect summertime dessert. You could dip fruit in molasses all summer long and be perfectly happy, but why stop there when there are refreshing drinks and cool, creamy puddings to be had?

Jeera pani is even better than lemonade

The second, darker type of molasses is extracted from dates and is known as “khejurer goor.” A popular recipe among Bengalis is known as “jeera pani,” a sweet and tangy, delightfully complex-tasting drink made with cumin, tamarind, and mint. It’s punchy, sour, and completely refreshing.

To make enough for two people, you will need:

  • 2 cups of water
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 1/4 cup of tamarind paste
  • A pinch of toasted cumin seeds
  • 10-15 mint leaves to taste.
  • Sugar to taste

Mix all the ingredients except the mint and sugar in a pitcher and stir until the molasses is dissolved. Pulverise the mint leaves in a blender and add them to the drink. Let the mint steep for approximately thirty seconds, give it a taste, and add more mint and a little sugar if needed. Strain the mint leaves out if you like a bit-less drink, then pop it in the fridge to chill before serving.

Goor bhath is the no-cook pudding you’ve been waiting for

Finally, we have “patali goor,” a light-to-medium-coloured molasses that is extracted from the sap of the date palm trees. This type of molasses comes in a hardened form, so you have to be a little more creative when adding it to drinks and dishes. Luckily, all you need to make the cold and creamy rice pudding-like dish known as “goor bhath” is a little bit of cooked rice and some powdered (or whole) milk. To make enough for two people, you will need:

  • A coin-sized amount of molasses, broken down into 4 smaller pieces
  • Two cups of cooked Jasmine Basmati rice (this rice will give your pudding the best flavour)
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered milk, preferably Nido (Alternatively, you can replace the powdered milk and water with a 1/2 cup of whole milk.)

Break the molasses into small quarter-sized pieces and set aside. After the rice is cooked and at room temperature, sprinkle the molasses pieces into your rice. You can taste as you go — the more you add, the sweeter it will be — so adjust the amount to your liking. Next, add the milk.

If using powdered milk, mix it with the water before adding it to the rice, and make sure to use cold water; lukewarm water means lukewarm pudding, which is less than desirable. You want the pudding to look creamy but not too thick — it should be a little runny — so add more milk (or a mixture of powdered milk and water) as needed.

Enjoy as a dessert, as a light, sweet breakfast, or add fresh fruit for a refreshing seasonal lunch or supper.

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