Sneak Peek into Iruttukadai Halwa of Tirunelveli

Every region has certain special traditional dish. Tirunelveli  town in south Tamil Nadu is famous for its Halwa. Halwa is a sweet dish made out of milk of wheat, sugar and clarified butter. It is fudgy in texture dripping with clarified butter. Even persons who are not very fond of sweets like this Halwa for sure.

 Tirunelveli town is situated close to Tuticorin & Kovilpatti and its name has become synonymous with the Halwa you get here.

The halwa has been in Tirunelveli for about 300 years & in that time, its fame has spread far and wide. So much, that anyone passing through Tirunelveli is bound to buy atleast a packet of halwa.

The halwa is brown in colour & is just barely translucent. It has a very sticky texture & is high up in the list of messy food. But the taste more than makes up for it. The halwa is made from wheat & sugar. It is soaked in ghee & looks as well as feels oily. The best part about this halwa is that it melts in your mouth. So it can be enjoyed even by people without teeth. However it is very fattening & too much will put inches around your waist line. It tastes best when it is hot. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it when it has cooled down.

The halwa is available all over Tirunelveli,but a profusion of shops near the Railway station & the Nellaiappar Temple bring fame to the city. The most famous of these is the Iruttukadai (Dark Shop). Another contender is Shanti Sweets. Iruttukadai gets its name from the fact that there are no electric lights in the shop & no sign board. Business in the evenings is carried out in candle-light as it has been so, since the time the shop started.

Tirunelveli halwa was a Rajasthani gift to Tamil Nadu — introduced by the Rajput community in Tirunelveli — 85 years back. “Earlier we used to make it ourselves, now we use local cooks but the recipe remains with us”. Bijli Singh and even his late father Krishna Singh were born in Chokkanpatti village of Tirunelveli districts. They have been here for five generations.

So while the rest of the country knows the Rajputs for their fighting skills, in Tirunelveli they are known for their culinary skills.  The basic difference between this halwa and others is the ingredients used. But if only ingredients matter then you may wonder why Tirunelveli halwa made in Madras or Bombay tastes different. “Simple,” says Bijli Singh with a twinkle in his eye “Here we use Tambiraparani water”.

Krishna Singh was the man who started the shop. In those days he used to make the halwa himself and thus was busy during the day in his kitchen. In the evening he used to sell it. Bijli Singh has stuck to that routine. “I haven’t changed the décor or the 40w bulb. You see if I modernise people will think the management has changed. I’ll lose business. I love tradition and sentiments.” Even his cash box remains a box made from dry palm leaves.

How to make Iruttukadai Halwa

Soak one kg of whole grains of wheat for eight hours.Hand grind. Let the milk-like batter settle. Pour the milk-like batter and 4½ kg sugar into a wide iron karhai or wok. Heat, stirring continuously till it begins to boil and bubble. Then add 2¼ kg ghee. Boil it down till it thickens and is nearly solid. Pour onto a greased thali or plate. Let it cool and cut or serve into desired portions.


Tirunelveli Iruttukadai Halwa

Near Kantimathi-Nellayappar temple

Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu

Here is the step by step details of making Halwa  as found while we browsed  the net.

Posted on December 7, 2011, in Food, Restaurants and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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