Friday, October 24, 2008

Tree Sap Fudge (Goondh Paak)

Before you dismiss this recipe, remember that maple sugar is also tree sap.

This recipe uses one of the most unusual ingredients that I’ve featured on this blog – gum arabic. Also known as gum acacia or meska, this is the hardened tree sap from two species of the Acacia tree. Although cultivated in Arabia and West Asia since antiquity, European colonialism saw a strong rise in gum arabic production in West Africa. It is been highly prized for its properties as a binding agent and emulsifier, and one that is not toxic to humans. After African independence, it also became cultivated in East Africa - between the 1950s and 1990s Sudan accounted for 80% of world production. Today Chad, Nigeria and Sudan produce over 95% of worldwide exports.

Gum arabic has been used for many industrial applications including photographic gum printing; watercolour paint production; and production of pyrotechnics, shoe polish, and lickable adhesives. It is also a common ingredient in processed food – just check the ingredient lists on marshmallows, gum drops, chewing gum, soft drinks, M&Ms, confections, syrups and ice cream. Some readers may remember the contention that Osama bin Laden controlled significant gum arabic production in Sudan, and that the West should boycott the item. This claim was later refuted by the U.S. State Department.

Gund paak is a rich, though not cloyingly sweet, dessert. Although it uses whole wheat flour, it also contains a generous amount of butter and is thus best consumed in moderation.

Makes 64 pieces

10 ounces almonds, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 pounds (8 sticks) unsalted butter
4 ounces of gum arabic (also known as gum acacia) or gum substitute in small pieces
5 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon powdered orange food color (optional), available in South Asian food stores
1 pound jaggery, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 ounces pistachios, coarsely chopped

1. In a small bowl mix 8 ounces of almonds, cardamom and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. In a large cooking pot, melt butter on medium. Test temperature by placing one piece of gum arabic into the butter. It should bubble and float to the surface as a white popped form. If it doesn’t pop, then the butter is not hot enough; if it becomes browns, then the butter is too hot.
3. Once the temperature is correct, fry the gum arabic in 6-10 small batches . Remove with a slotted spoon and dry and cool on paper towels. When cool, mix with the almond mixture. Set aside. [See above photo of friend gum arabic]
4. Add flour to the same butter. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring continuously, until the mixture becomes golden brown in color. If you stop stirring, it will splatter as hot air bursts through the flour mixture. You may also burn it.
5. Add food color and jaggery, and keep cooking until the jaggery melts.
6. Add the evaporated milk and the almond/gum mixture and continue to cook for 5-7 more minutes.
7. Transfer to a deep, large baking sheet (11x16) and spread evenly using the back of a metal spoon. Sprinkle with pistachios and remaining almonds, and use the spoon to embed the nuts into the mixture.
8. Cool to room temperature and then cut into 64pieces using a pizza cutter. Store in fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for several months.


Anonymous said...

That is a crazy-cool recipe. Just the name makes me want to try it.

Anonymous said...

Help!! I Can't find gum arabic in the non-powder form anywhere!! What can I substitute this with?

Rob said...

AKR - This recipe looks delicious! We will look for Acacia trees to tap for sap in the Kigoma region. Thank you for adding an ingredient to our list of options here.

Hugs and veggie curry to you and LPJ!

AKR said...

If you're looking for gum arabic, try Amazon:


I would call first to make sure it is granular and not powdered. You might also search under the Indian names goondh or gund.

If you can't find it, you can still make the recipe without it. It will lose some of the crunch but will still be very tasty.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I had a friend who lives in a big city go to thier Indian Market and they found it! I should have it within the next 2 days and by this weekend I will be chowing down on tree sap fudge!!


Angeelina said...

These fudge are awfully mouth-watering! And would keep me busy in the kitchen, again. I think this would be just perfect for my kids who are crazy for it!