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Karupatti Vellam (Pana Vellam) (Palm Jaggery) – the world’s best and finest natural sweetener

July 12, 2014

Karupatti Vellam (aka Pana Vellam in Tamil) (Palm Jaggery) (Palm Gur) – the world’s best and finest natural sweetener

Note: This is not Brown Sugar you find in Departmental Stores

Palm Jaggery is used in lieu of Sugar in southern districts of Ramanathapuram and Kanyakumari of Tamil Nad, as a tradition. This is Jaggery from Date Palm trees that grow in abundance in south India NOT FROM USUAL SUGARCANE.

I had my first exposure to this kind of jaggery when I was a 9 year old kid. One of our neighbours used to be a ‘Naadaar’ family from the southernmost parts of the State. Business-minded, they got all their workers from their hometown/native villages for least wages in the Stainless Steel & Copper Utensil shop they owned. (As a matter of fact, they still own this family business and stay put in the same old now-creaky house). For this ‘Nadar’ community, respect and honour are the most cherished values. Today Nadars are very successful entrepreneurs not only in Tamil Nad but have spread their wings around the world.

In my neighbour/friend’s house, there would be this huge copper pot perpetually warming up on the coals. (The family did use LPG fuel in the kitchen but when it came to workers who were limited to the ‘thaazhvaaram’ (outer courtyard) of their house, it was simmering coals. A series of copper tumblers would lie in a plate besides the pot. The pot held the ‘karupatti vellam’ coffee – fresh coffee brewed (mine is a coffee growing state as well as tea so we get it all extremely fresh than other importing nations) with milk sweetened with ‘Karupatti Vellam’ or the Palm Jaggery.

Whenever we kids went to their place to play, we were offered drinks but I always opted for this karupatti vella coffee. It could be sometimes over-sweet but it tasted so different from what we brewed at home. So very refreshingly different.

In the evenings likewise, there would sit a pot of ‘karupatti vella tea’ in the coals in their small yard.

Coffee and Tea were in unlimited supply.  The workers could have their fill as much as they wanted. And we friends too.

Even today if and whenever I visit them (when I go to Mylapore) I ask them for ‘karupatti vella coffee’ and they exclaim, ‘you remember, you haven’t changed!’


We are not diabetic at home but we left sugar for good in our daily food/drinks – some 15 years back. As a rule aerated/soft drinks like Pepsi and Coca Cola are banned in my home FOR ETERNITY. I have been having only plain tea sugarless for over a decade now, but with coffee it is still not possible to go sugar-free. We south Indians are greatest and one of world’s first coffee lovers. And we brew ours at home every single morning – fresh and garma garam. So i switched over to palm sugar and use it for family members (only) (as it is expensive 🙂 ) if indeed sugar becomes irresistible at times. Coffee I have limited to week-ends & special occasions because too much coffee can result in palpitations and now we are in an age-bracket where all health troubles are waiting at the doors to get in one by one!

One thing I have to say about freshly brewed coffee we have in Tamil Nad. The taste of coffee is different in other parts of the world because they consume pretty old coffee/tea, packed minimum 6 months to 1 year. Whereas in India/Tamil Nad/any southern Indian state, we consume within one month of plucking and packing whether it is coffee or tea. So our coffee/tea could taste curiously different. But looks like South Indian Filter-Coffee is somewhat ‘world famous’. In Doha, I see foreigners coming to some popular Indian veggie restaurants (yes one especially run by a Nadar family) just to sip our Filter Coffee.

I am a great coffee-lover and I have tasted Indonesian and Arabian coffee and coffee from Brazil, Columbia, Lebanon, Turkey among others, but nothing to beat our first and best south Indian Filter Coffee (or may be I am partial). I learn Indian coffee is from Ethiopia direct, brought to the southern States by the British.

Pics used here: from Personal family photos albums.

In Green Tea or whatever, I use the natural honey – no dearth of it either, we get it from the forests of hill stations in southern India.

OMG as usual I have meandered about everywhere than sticking to the topic 🙂 Originally didn’t I start with Palm Jaggery?!


I do my regular grocery shopping in a wholesale shop which is owned by a ‘Nadar’ family. In this shop, I am pleasantly surprised that all the good & beneficial things I got familiar with thanks to our Nadar friends in my younger age, are now available on sale.

The Karupatti Vellam or Pana Vellam (Palm Jaggery) done the ‘Nadar’ style is the latest addition.

‘Marundhe Unavaaga…’ (Food as Therapy…. as we say in Thamizh…)

The Nadars add ‘sukku’ (dried ginger), ‘thippili’ (a traditional tamil ‘Siddha’ herbal medicinal ingredient), black pepper and Palm water/milk (like coconut water/milk) to the Karupatti Vellam that makes it best and most-sought after natural sweetener in winter months. In summer months the same can still be used instead of cough syrup or antibiotics for throat infection or common cold. To my knowledge, the Nadars use it round the year.

Generally we avoid taking allopathic medications as much as possible and try to substitute the same with natural cure/remedy. Even the doctors in our family discourage us from taking prescription medicine regularly.

Karuppati Vellam/Pana Vellam/Palm Jaggery/Palm Gur is a far better and safer choice than saccharine, aspartame and other artificial/synthetic sweeteners/sugar substitutes which can have harmful effects on our system and can even cause cancer, on protracted use (as is reported now). Try Palm Jaggery in your coffee or tea or even when baking cakes. Second choice could be Palm Sugar/Brown Sugar. Palm Sugar and Palm Jaggery are NOT one and the same (google).

I powder the palm jaggery and use it in coffee/tea in rainy seasons.  Karupatti vellam also prevents cold and allergies in the first place (it is available in cube forms but mostly as chunks). Also sometimes, the cubes become my toffee 🙂

The cutest thing is how they wrap this Karupatti/Pana vellam/Palm Jaggery – like in a basket sewn in dried palm leaves/fronds matted fine the traditional way. So eco-friendly, so natural.

But then I am from the state where wedding feasts are still served on fresh cut Banana Leaves whether you are a pauper or a philanthropic billionaire – never in crystals or silver. I hope the old customs stay for ever. I am missing the dried lotus leaves cups already in which we were always served our ‘kheers’ in my young age. May be lotus/lily ponds are fast disappearing and the paper/plastic cup culture is upon us with a vengeance?


Recommend Palm Jaggery/Karuppati Vellam/Pana Vellam  for everyone – and if you are in Chennai, shop for natural remedies like Karupatti Vellam always.

Many of us do use ‘brown sugar’ in any case in the place of sugar, but I suggest Karupatti Vellam/Pana Vellam (Palm Jaggery) over any other natural/artificial sweetener. Great alternative for those especially for whom diabetes is high-risk who cannot do without a sweetener.




From → Vegetarian

  1. siva sankar permalink

    sir i am palm jaggery (karupatti) wholesale supplyer in thoothukudi cell 7200380020

  2. Mookambika. AP permalink

    Can we consume KARUPATTI everyday? Which is best karupatti sugar or KARUPATTI vellam? Can small children bellow 5yrs can consume? Please suggest me am not aware of this product.

    • I am not a qualified expert to advise on that but I think it is pretty safe for everyone to consume on regular basis. Please consult a physician before introducing anything to young children. In some communities in southern Tamil Nadu, karuppatti is the only sugar they use 100% for all seasons, young or old people.

  3. I bought the jaggery recently but when I add to the milk, the milk breaks. What does this mean?? Has the jaggery gone bad? Or should I not add in hot milk? Can someone please help me out

    • Milk does not curdle normally with adding sugar or jaggery. Either the milk must be old or the jaggery was contaminated.

    • Ayshwarya permalink

      Hi aish.. A small amount of salt will be added during karupatti makking. So as we know that milk breaks on addition of salt. Same happens here. More over if you want to add karupatti to milk for consumption, then cool the boiled milk and add karupatti to it and consume.

  4. Vinoth Raj permalink

    I Need Karuppati In Bulk Can You Supply Regularly

    • I am not a trader or stockist. Only a housewife. Decided to share information that’s all. I think if you scroll down the comments on this page, you can find a supplier/producer who has listed his phone number.

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