Halwa

Pride of Tirunelveli
Few foods make the mouth literally water at first sight, as the Tirunelveli Halwa. It’s rich reddish golden glaze, its gummy, jelly-like texture, its crumbly taste- all contribute to making this a dainty dish that should figure in your food bucket list.
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It is an urban legend that the taste of the halwa in Tirunelveli cannot be replicated anywhere else because of the unique properties of the water which goes into the making of the halwa. The water here is said to have traces of copper which apparently lent its name to the river Thamirabarani (copper in Tamil is thamiram) that flows through Tirunelveli.

Fact or fiction, the halwa has become a legend in its own right, and when prepared in true Tirunelveli tradition, it is a treat for all the senses. Much love and labour goes into making of this famous indulgence, which is said to have been first introduced by Rajput cooks who worked for the zamindar in Chokkampatti village near Tirunelveli. Wheat, soaked for long hours, is finely ground to extract a milk-like liquid. A generous amount of sugar is sifted in and allowed to thicken over simmering fire. Dollops of ghee go in, little by little, as the mixture congeals to a semi-solid state, being stirred patiently for over an hour. Some colour is mixed in, with meticulous care taken not to alter or affect the taste.

But contrary to popular belief, the Tirunelveli halwa should not be eaten hot off the stove but cooled and stored for a day or two, before savouring it. Which is why the halwa tastes even better in the course of a fortnight- just be sure to warm it up on the stove or microwave.

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