There is no mystery behind the palgova- you can break it down to just two simple ingredients –milk and sugar. But the alchemy of the two creates a compelling, grainy, fine mass that even those who scorn milk may favour.
Srivilliputhur became associated with the ‘palgova’ as the town is a principal place for milk production in Tamil Nadu. The white revolution is said to have sparked off the large-scale production of palgova in the town, which was originally made with the surplus milk.
The fame of the palgova spread as the thousands of devotees who visit the birthplace of Andal, the only woman among the 12 Alwar saints, took home the packaged peda. The ancient temple here is dedicated to Andal who grew increasingly devoted to Lord Vishnu, strung garlands for his idol, composed verses to indicate her ardour and eventually married him and merged with him. The imposing temple tower is the insignia of the Tamil Nadu government and is predominantly seen on buses throughout the state.
The preparation of palkova is an endeavor of patience. Milk, freshly churned from dairy farms around the town, is boiled over firewood stoves, which are fed with cashewnut shells. The milk is simmered for over an hour, with caution taken to ensure it does not singe the vessel. As it begins to solidify, sugar is added and stirred, till the sweet reaches a semi-solid state. It is cooled, packed and sent off to be tasted by those who turn patrons for life.
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