Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Sameera Ahmed | The News Minute | December 3, 2014 | 11.55 am IST If the question ‘Where are you from? ‘evokes the response, “Tirunelveli”, the person usually responding is in for trouble, where trouble in this sense will equate to being a constant supplier of the ever-famous Halwa, without which the word Tirunelveli sounds lost. To satisfy the sweet tooth of Halwa lovers across the country, three school friends, Prabhakaran Arunachalam,Kulandai Vel and a friend, all from Tirunelveli have co-started a shop, Sweetkadai, selling and shipping this local delicacy, catering mainly to those not living in Thirnelveli who wish they could get their hands on some of the exquisite sweet. The startup, begun in October, based in Thirunelveli, has been selling halwa to online customers all over the country.  Prabhakaran Arunachalam, who spoke to The News Minute said that the idea originated after he once was in too much of a hurry to take halwa for his friends and colleagues on his return to Chennai from his hometown. Not to disappoint them, he had requested his friend to courier it to him in Chennai. That was when the idea struck to allow this option, he said. “Why can’t we do it as a business? ,” said Prabhakaran to his friends after which they began the shop.  Within a short span, the store has picked up sales with almost 30 kilos being shipped across the country every day , to places like West Bengal to as far as Haryana in the north.  History Tirunelveli maybe famous for this sticky, slurpy sweet but the origins for this well-liked liked dish wasn’t from Tamil Nadu. Legend has it that the Halwa entered Tamil Nadu during the Maratha invasions of Tanjore . Even though it was first in Tanjore where the dish made its first mark, it became a specialty of Tirunevlei where it reached later. According to natives from the town, halwa was introduced by the Rajput cooks employed by the Zamindar of Chokkampatti, a village near the town.  Story has it that the Zamindar liked the dish he tasted in Kasi so much that he insisted that his Rajput cook make it again. The Rajput cook, Jegan Singh, who made the dish, went on to open his first Halwa shop in Tiruneveli , Lakshmi Vilas – the first halwa shop in the town. Many more halwa shops have opened over time, but most famous of them is the Irtutukadai. Irrutu kadai’ (or darkened shop) is a shop which opens only at five in the evening everyday. The shop sees long queues outside everyday, and customers are served for about one or two hours within which stocks clear up. People say that the first owner of the shop, Krishna Singh opened the shop only at night because he spent the entire day making the exquisite dish. . Sold under the light of a kerosene lamp, thus was born the name ‘Irrutukadai’. While some shops take over three days to prepare the dish, some whip it up on the same day. On the first day, wheat milk is extracted and allowed to ferment. The fermented whet milk is then used to make the halwa the next day using ingredients, ghee, sugar and cashew nuts. The startup www.sweetkadai.com allows customers to get their hands on the sweet, within two to three days of the orders. The shop has a production unit in Tirunelveli, and is tied up with a famous shop in the town for supply.                                                                                                                     
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