Sprouted Kitchen’s discussion of natural sweeteners on Friday inspired me to say a little bit about gud, which is used in a lot of Indian dishes to provide a sort of nutty sweetness. In dishes with a spicy gravy, or in thick, spicy dals, its sweetness is the perfect counterpart to the heat of chili pepper or the sourness of tamarind.
Gud (it can also be spelled gur) is barely-processed sugar made from the palm or sugar cane plant, most commonly. It can also be made from date palm. While I sadly cannot say much more about how it’s made, I can talk about its uniqueness as an ingredient, and the reason why I always have a little bit on hand!
It comes in blocks ranging from fist-size to enormous, and it has the soft, not-grainy consistency of maple candy. In fact, little pieces of gud taste quite nice, with almost a caramel flavor Recently, my mom made a dal, and even as she asked my dad to try it, she said, “I know exacly what he’s going to say: ‘it needs a little something sweet’.” Sure enough, after tasting and considering for a moment, that’s just what he asked for. It’s that little spoon of gud that makes a difference.
I have seen recipes that call for using brown sugar in place of gud, and I bet that it is a reasonable replacement. But it’s not exactly the same, and brown sugar is much more processed and, well, sugary.