Jaggery has to be one of the coolest words ever. It’s also a type of unrefined, whole cane sugar found in Asia, Africa and Latin America, amongst other places. Sugar cane juice or palm sap is boiled and solidifies into the gorgeous caramel-colored block (or cubes) that’s used to sweeten everything from lentil soup to milky puddings.

Flavor-wise, it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what jaggery tastes like – the closest equivalent is probably light brown sugar, but less pronounced and caramelly. Still, it’s close enough that you could substitute it in a pinch.

Apparently jaggery is quite common in India, Sri Lanka and other areas, though reading the recipes in Cook Kandalama Style was my first introduction to the foodstuff. Luckily, jaggery is very easy to acquire online or at Indian stores, and is affordable to boot, so experiment judiciously and let me know how it goes!