The Traditional Sweeteners of India: Desi Khand and Bura


Desi Khand and Bura are both traditional sweeteners that have been used in Indian kitchens for centuries. They are derived from sugarcane juice that is boiled down to a thick syrup and then crystallized. They are coarse-textured and flavorful sugar compounds that are different from the refined white sugar commonly used every day in most parts of the world. Desi khand is also known as khaand, khand, and ‘khandsari’.

To truly understand some basic questions like what is khand? how is it different from sugar? Is brown sugar the same as khand? Some of these questions will be answered in this blog post for everyone to understand and appreciate what we consume regularly.

In India, Desi Khand and Bura have been used for a long time in cooking, baking, and sweets making, and are considered to be an integral part of Indian cuisine. They are typically associated with traditional Indian celebrations and festivals, such as Diwali, where they are used to make sweets to be enjoyed at home or exchanged among friends and family as gifts. Unfortunately, most Indians have forgotten the use of Desi Khand & Bura which their great-grandmothers used. It is all a case of easy, simple, and convenient. Also whiter the better is the go-to sentiment.

Desi Khand and Bura are often believed to be healthier alternatives to refined sugar, as they retain some of the nutrients found in sugarcane, and have a lower glycemic index. They also impart a unique flavor that can enhance the taste of traditional Indian dishes and sweets. To know more about khand vs sugar, read till the end of the blog.

Desi Khand, Shakkar, Bura, and Cheeni are different types of sugar commonly used in India.

  • Desi Khand is a type of unrefined cane sugar, which is coarser in texture and darker in color than regular sugar.
  • Shakkar has a dark brown color and is another type of unrefined sugar.
  • Bura is also unrefined sugar, often produced from sugarcane juice, and has a light cream to pale brown color.
  • Cheeni is another name for granulated sugar, which is the most common type of sugar used in cooking and baking.

These different types of sugar are used in various Indian dishes, sweets, and desserts, with each type having its unique taste and color. The difference between khand and sugar also comes from the molasses content, processing, color, flavor & usage. You can read more in the FAQs at the end of the post.

Desi Khand and Bura, being unrefined sugar, may have some health benefits compared to refined sugar:

  1. Higher nutrient content: Desi Khand and Bura retain some of the minerals and nutrients found in sugarcane, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, while most of these are lost in the refining process.
  2. Lower glycemic index: Desi Khand and Bura have a lower glycemic index than refined sugar, which means it is absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly and is less likely to cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.
  3. More Flavor: Desi Khand and Bura have a stronger and more complex flavor than refined sugar, due to their coarser texture and higher mineral content, which can enhance the flavor of certain dishes. Indian sweets tend to taste better with strong flavors.
  4. Better for the environment: The production of Desi Khand and Bura typically uses traditional methods that are more sustainable and have less impact on the environment than the highly industrial methods used to produce refined sugar.

However, it is essential to note that, despite these potential benefits, Desi Khand and Bura still contain a large amount of sugar, and should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Do you want to know if khand and brown sugar same? Read on…

Desi Khand and Bura are commonly used in Indian cooking and baking for their unique flavor and texture:

  1. For Sweetening drinks: Desi Khand and Bura are commonly used to sweeten Indian beverages such as tea, coffee, and badam milk giving them a rich and complex flavor.
  2. Baking: They can be used as a sweetener in baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, and bread, to add a distinctive taste and natural color. It goes well with bakes based on clarified butter or ghee or complements Indian cuisine like gulab jamun cake.
  3. Sweets and desserts: Desi Khand and Bura are often used in traditional Indian sweets and desserts, such as laddu, barfi, and jalebi, to add a rich flavor and natural color.
  4. Chutneys and sauces: They are sometimes used as a sweetener in Indian chutneys and sauces, such as tamarind and mint chutney, to balance out the tangy and spicy flavors.
  5. Cooking: They can be used as a sweetener in Indian dishes, such as curries and stews, to add depth and complexity to the flavors. Some cuisines in India also use sugar in most of their savory dishes – like Bengali and Gujarati.

The shelf life of Desi Khand can vary depending on several factors, such as storage conditions, humidity, and exposure to light and air. However, in general, Desi Khand can last for several months when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

It is important to note that over time, Desi Khand may darken and harden, and its flavor and aroma may change, but it is still safe to consume as long as it does not have any visible signs of spoilage, such as mold or an off odor.

It is recommended to use a clean and dry spoon when scooping Desi Khand from the container to minimize the introduction of moisture, which can shorten its shelf life.

Overall, Desi Khand and Bura are important cultural and culinary elements of Indian tradition, and their use continues to be passed down from generation to generation.


Khand vs Sugar

Khand and sugar are both sweeteners derived from sugarcane. Their difference lies in the processing and composition of each. Khand undergoes less processing and hence retains natural molasses whereas, for easy consumption, appearance, and increased shelf life, refined sugar particularly undergoes extensive processing to produce a pure sucrose product.

Khaand vs Sugar

While both khaand & sugar are derivatives of sugarcane, they differ in their processing and their resultant composition. Khaand retains natural molasses due to lesser processing while refined sugar is almost pure sucrose, with little to no molasses content.

Is khand and brown sugar the same?

Khand & brown sugar are not the same but do share some similarities, for example:

1. Processing: Both khaand & brown sugar undergo lesser processing than refined sugar. Khand is made from minimal processing from sugarcane while brown sugar is refined white sugar with some molasses reintroduced for the color, texture & taste.

2. Color & Flavor: Both khand & sugar have a brown color due to the presence of molasses. They also have a richer taste and flavor because of the presence of molasses.

3. Molasses Content: Khaand retains more molasses as compared to brown sugar. Though molasses in khand is natural as it undergoes lesser processing. Brown sugar, on the other hand, is refined white sugar where some molasses is added back during processing. The molasses content in brown sugar depends on manufacturer/ brand to brand.

4. Usage: Khand is a traditional form of unrefined sugar used in many Indian sweets & desserts. Brown sugar, however, is used globally and can be easily used as an alternative to refined sugar in various recipes, especially baking & cooking where its flavor & color can enhance the dish.

What is the difference between khand and sugar?

Khaand and sugar differ in their processing, color, flavor, molasses content, and ultimate usage. While they both are produced from sugarcane, khand is rich in natural molasses, less processed, brown in color, deep in flavor, and largely used as a traditional sweetener in Indian recipes perfected by our grandmothers. On the other hand, sugar is refined, white in color, has minimal to zero molasses, and is used globally in various dishes including baking and cooking recipes which require uniform taste.

Brown sugar vs desi khand

Brown sugar and desi khand are derivatives of sugarcane. For making brown sugar, some amount of molasses is added back to the refined sugar, while desi khand retains natural molasses and minerals due to lesser processing. Desi khand is richer in flavor as compared to brown sugar due to natural molasses. This rich flavor makes it ideal to be used in Indian sweets and dishes while brown sugar suits global cooking making it a suitable choice for all types of diverse food.

What is khand?

Khand/ khaand is an unrefined, unprocessed sugar traditionally made in India. It is also known as “khandsari” or “desi khand.” Even today in villages or small towns, Khand is produced by boiling sugarcane juice to form a thick syrup, which is then allowed to cool and solidify into blocks or cones. This age-old method involves minimal processing compared to refined white sugar production on a mass scale, allowing khaand to retain some natural molasses and minerals present in sugarcane juice. Hence Khand derived traditionally has a light brown color and a slightly rich & strong flavor compared to refined white sugar. It is commonly used in Indian cuisine and traditional sweets like bajre ki kheer, rabri, kadha doodh, etc.

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