Iruttukadai halwa is the popular Tirunelveli halwa sold in the shop known as ‘Iruttukadai’ in Tirunelveli city, located in Tirunelveli district of South Tamil Nadu.
‘Iruttu’ means dark and ‘kadai’ means shop, so it means dark shop. The shop has this name because it used to operate with minimal lighting from the time it was started about more than 80 years back. The uniqueness of the shop is that it still operates on 40W bulb, like it used to, with cash box made from dried palm leaves. Nothing has changed in the shop, from the décor to the taste of the halwa, which is even today made manually without using any machine. It is said that the Tirunelveli halwa was introduced by Rajput community in Tirunelveli and is carried on by their generations. Unlike other shops, this shop opens only from 5.30 pm to 7 pm and people queue-up nearly an hour before the shop opens.
Recipe for Iruttukadai halwa
- Wheat: 450 Gms
- Ghee: 3 cups
- Sugar: 7 cups
- Cardamom: ½ tsp
- Water: 12 cups
- Soak the wheat in water for around 8 hours. It would be appropriate to soak the wheat in the morning, so that you can take the wheat milk in the evening.
- After 8 hours, drain the water. Grind the wheat in a blender by adding some water. Filter the wheat milk using a filter or neat muslin cloth. This is the first milk. Again grind the wheat by adding some water and extract the second milk. Repeat the process again the third time and extract the third milk. You can try to extract some more milk, but you might have to increase the quantity of sugar. Pour the wheat milk in a bowl and cover it. Leave it to ferment overnight.
- The next morning you will see the thick milk at the bottom of the bowl with water at the top. Slowly discard the water.
- Heat 2 tbsp of ghee in a non stick pan. Break the cashew nuts and fry until it becomes light brown. Remove from pan and keep aside.
- Mix the wheat milk with 12 cups of water.
- Heat the non stick pan and pour the mixture into heat.
- Cook on medium flame stirring the mixture at regular intervals. Continue cooking for nearly an hour till you notice the mixture starts thickening.
- Add sugar and continue the cooking by stirring.
- The halwa will become a semi solid state. At this stage start adding the ghee little by little by continuously stirring.
- After an hour the halwa will look transparent and the ghee will start oozing out.
- In a separate pan heat 3 tbsp of ghee and add 2 tbsp of sugar and stir. When the sugar melts the ghee will start changing color and becomes brown. Now add this mixture to the halwa. This is to get the original brown color of the halwa. (No artificial coloring is added in Tirunelveli halwa.
- Keep cooking and stirring till the mixture becomes really smooth. It should slide off from the ladle. You can recollect the ghee that is oozed out.
- Add the cardamom powder and mix well.
- Switch off the flame.
- Add the fried cashew nuts.
The sweet, soft, jelly like mouth watering, shiny brown Tirunelveli Iruttukadai halwa is worth a try for anyone who is visiting or passing through Tirunelveli. The authentic rich sweetness of Tirunelveli halwa has to be tasted only from Iruttukadai. So next time you pass through Tirunelveli, make sure you buy a pack of halwa from Iruttukadai. And, once you put a spoon of halwa in your mouth, you will definitely start craving for more.