To make jaggery (god in konkani; gur in North India), sugarcane juice is simply boiled in open air vats, condensed and poured in moulds. See my picture post on the Making of Jaggery in Karnataka. Jaggery is not refined and no chemicals are added in its processing, it thus retains much of the fiber, minerals and vitamins. When consumed, it’s sugar is released much slowly in the blood stream compared to refined sugars, thus it is considered a healthier alternative to sugar. Jaggery is commonly available as light to dark brown chunks, with the consistency of fudge and can be eaten as is, just like fudge.
Jaggery is an important ingredient in many indian dishes, as its sweetness balances the spice or sourness of the dish. It is even available in Indian grocery stores here in Boston. Got his 4 lb block of jaggery ($4.99) in the Spiceland Grocery Store in Burlington, MA.
We simply use a knife to pry out smaller blocks which we use in making tambdo phovu, my favorite dill idlis and the konkani delicacy Kadgi Chakko. I also use it in my Kaapi (indian coffee). It is primary base and bonding ingredient in the simple, but yummy Indian candy Chikki.
If you don’t want to be bothered with a big lump, you can buy jaggery in smaller blocks as well.
Video of making sugarcane juice in Colaba Mumbai.