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One of our TV chefs has done a show on India, and one of the ingredients he has used in a few recipes is jaggery, a sugar made from palms.

In the show, it appears to be soft, like soft brown sugar. However,the jaggery I have found at the supermarket is in hard lumps.

Does it require soaking or some other preparation before using?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Jaggery doesn't require any kind of soaking.

It's usually added either while sautéing or if the dish is gravy based, while its boiling.

Jaggery usually softens up when heated and gradually dissolves with other ingredients just as salt or sugar would.

The hard blocks of jaggery are difficult to break into pieces and its easier to grate it.

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Thanks. I did just grate it, worked fine. – ElendilTheTall Jul 8 '13 at 20:02
I usually break them in advance to teaspoon sized pieces, and then just add them as i go along to my curry according to the sweetness i desire. – dan12345 Feb 21 '14 at 14:33

Jaggery balls can be grated with knife, which can dissolves in recipes which we add. There is no need of dissolving it.

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You can easily grate jaggery with a knife, but if it is really hard then you may wish to grate it first and then soak it in small amount of water before you add it to your dish.
This will ensure that jaggery gets mixed very well in your curry.
Personally I have observed that when my jaggery is very hard I still see some small (really small) pieces of it in my dish.
Like... when I would add it in the kheer I would make for my infant daughter I want the jaggery to be mixed very well, so I would just dissolve it in half a cup of water and then add it to the hot simmering kheer and be ensured that it gets mixed really well.

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