A Siuli is preparing for nectar extract from date tree
The earthen containers are burnt to clean from germs
A bird is waiting to taste the delicious nectar from a date tree
The juice is boiled to make the Gur
The making of Patali
Thorn from date tree
Delicious Pithey with Gur – Bengali Winter dessert
Sheeter Phasal (Winter Harvest) of rural Bengal
Nalen Poira Gur, and beautiful Patalies“. The steady demand in the houses across Bengal has ensured a steady demand in the Bengali Market.
Gur is also indispensable as a dip with Bengali’s favorite winter dessert
Pithey. Preparation for producing gur starts in the Bengali month of
Ashwin and continues up to the month of Magh. The three weeks of
Ashwin is spent in deweeding, spent for cleaning the date plant. Then a bamboo pole is inserted in the date palm tree through which date juice oozes out. The person who carry on the process of maintaining trees, collecting date nectar are called
Shiuli. The Shiulis are pretty much in demand in the winter months. These valuable
gur is endearingly called winter harvest. The actual process of collection though starts from the beginning of the Bengali
Sanatan Das, a veteran Shiuli from a remote Bengal village informed us that date palms are dioecious i.e. male and female plants are different. Nectar from female plant is generally better.
When Sanatan was asked about the age of a random plant, he instructed his son to count the number of nodes in the plants. The count revealed that nectar has been collected from the plant for 48 years.
A few thousand Shiulis tend to almost hundred thousand date trees in Bengal. After the stem is cleaned, earthen pots are disinfected and slung at the stem of the date plants. A bamboo pipe is inserted within the date tree. Nectar from the tree oozes overnight and collects in a pot which is taken out in the morning. At the end of the day the clay pots are scorched again for further use.
Jiren gur is especially noted for its taste. The name jiren is derived from the fact that the tree is rested once in a while to renew their vigor & improved quality.
The nectar is then concentrated on fire. Huge earthen ovens are erected in the fields. Date juice in aluminum pots are heated and concentrated. The
gur is boiled for two & half hours. Liquid nalen gur is formed before twenty minutes and
patali after 20 minutes. Then they are poured in banana leaves to cool and solidify. They are then pieced with date thorns. This year
nalen gur is priced at Rs.60 per kg. and patali at Rs.80 per kg.
Patali from here is shipped to Mumbai, Kanpur, Delhi and other cities in
Gur is very intimately linked with Pithey. It is ethereal to get the taste of
pithey like boiled pithey, ashke, gokul, soruchakli pithae, patisapta. Preparation starts a month before
Paush Sankranti and the day before Paush Sankranti, Bengalis dip their boiled steaming
pitheys in gur and enjoy this mouthwatering experience.
Article: Sujit Sengupta, English version by Kush