Mama’s Punjabi Recipes – Ajawain aur Badam Wala Gur (Jaggery & Carom Seeds Coated Almonds)


With the bitter cold weather comes the need for foods that can keep you warm, provide nourishment and give a quick boost of energy. In my ancestral town of Lyallpur in Pre-Partitioned India and the rest of the Punjab, Multan and Northwest Frontier areas, the winter cold fronts would come off the Hindu Khush mountains and the wind would go right through your clothes. We would huddle around clay coal pots or inginthis and warm our hands while milky tea would boil and the vegetables for the day would be cooked.

In the cold winter mornings when everyone was getting ready for work or late in the evenings when it was dark, just before bedtime, we would often make the ajwain aur badam wala gur (jaggery and carom seeds coated almonds) over the ingithi and eat it after dinner or later with a tall brass glass of hot milk to give us warmth. It is especially a good folk remedy for colds and the flu. People in the Punjab still eat it for its medicinal value, although it has also become available in the markets as a sweet snack during the cold months.

Ajwain is a unique Indian spice that is often used to cure stomach aches or indigestion. The ajwain seed smells almost like thyme but is more aromatic, slightly bitter and stronger in taste. Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E, high quality protein and amino acids, as well as a variety of oils and can help lower LDL cholesterol.

Gur, also known as jaggery, is a uncentrifuged concentrated sugar made from cane juice, without separation of the molasses. It is usually brown in color and is sold in cone shaped blocks. In India, gur –as are almonds – is often used in many Hindu religious ceremonies and is often eaten raw before starting any good work or important new venture or when good news is shared. In folk medicine, gur is considered hot and causes sweating, which allows the body to cool down in the high summer heat.


1 cup gur (rock jaggery)

1 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)

1 tsp saund (ginger powder)

1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

½ cup badam (almonds). If desired, add more almonds


1.  Break the gur down into smaller pieces. Also break the almonds down into smaller pieces.

2.    In a small kadai, frying pan or wok, pour the ghee in, warm it up over medium heat and then add the almond pieces.

3.    Roast the almonds for less than a minute till they turn slightly brown.

4.   Add the ajwain and the ginger powder and stir. They will send out a nice aroma.

5.   Throw in the gur pieces, stir the mixture continuously till the gur is melted but careful not to burn it.

6.  Turn off the heat, keep stirring the mixture and let it cool down before eating. Be careful not to eat right away as it may burn your mouth.

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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.