Monday, April 24, 2006

Tirunelveli Romance

The Tirunelveli halwa is a never ending romance between the halwa and saliva.
Everytime when Nagaraj,the boy in our college store went to his native town,my friend Radha and I waited in anticipation,smacking our tongues for he was sure to come back with his innocent smile on his face and a packet of 'Iruttukada' Tirunelveli Halwa. We both could not really wait for him to leave...The hot halwa dripping with ghee is so mouth watering that you really cant stop eating it.

Tirunelveli, a 2000 year old town on the banks of the river Thamirapani has lots of stories and legends just like most of the Indian towns and villages.Tirunelveli was the capital of the Pandya Kingdom for some time, next only to Madurai in importance. It is a twin town - Thirunelveli and Palayamkottai.

The huge Thiru Nelliappar temple reigns over this town. Legend has it that a very devout farmer once laid out his paddy to dry here, asking his Gods to keep a watch over it and went to bathe in the Tambiraparani. While he was bathing, it started raining heavily. He hurried back thinking that all his paddy would have got drenched.But to his utter dismay he found that while it continued to pour, his paddy remained unaffected because on that spot it was not raining. The lord had protected it 'like a hedge'. In Tamil paddy is 'Nel', hedge is 'Veli' and 'Tiru' is holy, therefore the name Tirunelveli.

A very interesting thing about the famous Tirunelveli halwa is that it is in fact a Rajasthani gift to Tamilnadu..... the chivalrous Rajputs' culinary brilliance.This delicacy of Tirunelveli was in fact introduced by the Rajput community around 85yrs back-the owners of 'Iruttukadai', literally translated as 'dark shop'!- The owners in an attempt to retain the tradition have not modernised the shop at all, it is still a dark shop, but a very popular shop among all the Tirunelveli halwa lovers all over the world.The shop doesnt even have a name board but it is from this Iruttukadai that lakhs worth Halwa has been going to different parts of the world for the last several decades!!

After a thorough search for my favourite sweet this is the best recipe I could get for the traditional Tirunelveli Halwa. Well if the taste slightly differs from the original,as the owner of 'Iruttukadai' says, tis the water of Tambiraparani which makes the difference!

Ingredients & Method



Good quality wheat — 200 gm.
Sugar — 300gm.
Ghee — 200gm.
Cardamom powder — 1 tsp
Cashewnut pieces — 1 tbsp (optional)


Wash and soak the wheat for about four to five hours. Grind the wheat well in a grinder or mixer by adding water frequently. The soaked water need not be wasted and may be used for this purpose.

Now squeeze the milk from the ground wheat .Initially the wheat milk will be thick and becomes thinner for the second or third time. Use a sieve to filter out the clean milk and store in a vessel for 10 minutes. A thick solution settles down and you have a watery portion on the top.

Remove the thin milk and pour the thick one in a heavy-bottomed kadai and boil. Once it thickens add sugar and keep mixing for 15 minutes. Sugar melts and again the whole mixture thickens.

Now add ghee little by little into the mixture and keep mixing again for 10 minutes.Cook the halwa on slow fire. Once the halwa starts leaving the sides of the kadai, you can assume that it is properly cooked. Add cardamom powder and cashew nuts fried in ghee and serve hot.

Mix for some more time(if you wish to cut it out as pieces)and pour on a greased tray.Allow it to cool and cut it out for serving.

Gujju special Atte ka seera

Alternatively there is a Gujarati delicacy which nearly mimicks the taste of Tirunelveli Halwa

2 tbsp. wheat flour
2 1/2 tbsp. ghee
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
Milk-2 1/2 cup
elaichi powder
chopped cashew/ almonds

Add flour and ghee in a heavy sauce pan.
Roast on slow fire, stirring continuously.
Simultaneously boil 2 1/2 cups milk.
When the atta becomes golden brown, add the boiling milk.
Add sugar and mix thoroughly.
Stir gently and continuously till excess water evaporates and the ghee separates.
Decorate with chopped almonds.


Anonymous said...

You have so much knowledge about lots of states delicacies! Thats amazing!! Very much impressed.

indianadoc said...

Hats of to your patience LG for having read all my scrappings!

rashmi said...

hi...r u sure u need 2 use only 2 tbsp atta???wudnt the final quantity be really less???

Anonymous said...

is it two cps or 2 tsps

indianadoc said...

2Tbsp should be enough..just like we add cornflour to thicken the soup...It should be light...