Sep 3, 2009

Godhumai halwa- A popular Tirunelveli delicacy(step by step pics)

Tirunelveli halwa or irrutakadai halwa

Godhumai (transliterated as wheat berry) halwa is a very popular sweet in Tirunelveli district in Tamilnadu.
An introduction- Courtesy Wikipedia
Tirunelveli city is noted for the sweet halwa (pronounced locally as alwa) which is made from wheat and sugar. Halwa is a golden brown, semi-solid in texture and contains a lot of ghee/vanaspati which gives it the oily look. It tastes better when served fresh and hot. Tirunelveli halwa is said to owe its uniquely rich taste to a special recipe of this region, blended with the renowned sweetness of the Thamarabarani river. The Halwa was made famous by a Marwari family settled here more than 300 years ago. The original shop started by them is the Lakshmi Vilas. Slowly, others borrowed the formula and now the halwa has become synonymous with this city. The Tamarabarani water is the major constituent of the original Tirunelveli Halwa which keeps up the quality.
There are many hot spots to buy halwa around the Nellayappar temple and near the main railway station.Two of the most famous halwa stores are Irutu Kadai halwa (Transliterated as the dark halwa store with no lights), situated near the Nellayappar temple Tirunelveli Town, and the other being Shanthi Sweets. The name Irutu Kadai of the former store derives from the fact that the looks of the store has been kept unchanged from the date it was started. Till date, there is no bright electrical lamp or even a board to display the shop's brand. They don't have any other branches. The iruttu kadai halwa is prepared in amman sannadhi street. There are other good sweet stalls in Tirunelveli town namely Visaakam sweets, Guru sweets. There are a lot of halwa shops near the old and new bus stands, but the noted shops are worth visiting.

My family is a native of Tirunelveli and the place is extremely beautiful with lovely temples, waterfalls and scenery. We use to visit Tirunelveli during our school vacations. I rememeber having hot and fresh halwa on banana leaves. It use to taste divine.
My grandmom makes lovely Tirunelvali halwa. Being a native to Tirunelvali, this one had to occupy a special position in my blog. My grandmother was very enthusiastic when I asked her to make this for me. The recipe is simple , but the process is bit time consuming and involves lot of labour and patience. I am not very sure whether I will be doing this again, but definitely something worth trying and interesting!!!

Wheat berries- 2cups
Sugar- 4cups
Cashews- 1/2 cup
Ghee- 11/2cup(150gm-200gm approx)
cardamom- 1tsp
Yellow food colour- a pinch dissloved in milk.

Method-The step by step pictures will be useful for people who are willing to try this!
1. Extraction of milk from wheat berries- Clean and soak the wheat berries for around 36-48hours.
tirunelveli halwa 2. After it becomes tender, grind it in a blender adding water. Filter this on the sieve.Squeeze out the milk from the berries and filter the liquid. Repeat the extraction process by blending the wheat berries adding some more water. Discard the ground berries after extracting the milk thoroughly.
tirunelveli halwa 3. Leave the milk to stand for another 24 hours so that it turns a little sour. The thicker portion of the milk will settle down.If there is too much of thin liquid on the top, slightly tilt the vessel to discard it.
tirunelveli halwa 4. The actual process- Make sugar syrup by mixing sugar and a cup of water. Keep stirring in medium flame till you obtain a thick, sticky syrup( one string consistency).
tirunelveli halwa5. Add the wheat milk and stir it . It will start to turn thick.
tirunelveli halwa
6. Add the food colour and ground cardamom and keep stirring.
tirunelveli halwa7. Roast some cashews in ghee till golden brown and add it to the halwa. Boil a cup of water and pour it in the halwa. Keep stirring. Hot water is added to enable more cooking of the halwa by delay the thickening process. You have to keep stirring so that the raw smell and the taste of the milk should go off completely.
tirunelveli halwa 8. Melt the ghee and add to the halwa , few tablespoons at a time and keep stirring.The stirring process may take about 45 minutes to an hour. Stir till the halwa absorbs the ghee completely and does not stick to the vessel anymore and becomes a thick mass of ball.
Your Tirunelveli halwa is ready.
tirunelveli halwa Notes- Use a heavy bottomed pan. Take care of not burning the halwa. Reaching the exact consistency is very important. Repeated stirring is what you have to do which involves lot of labour and patience. Make sure you have some help before making this( according to me!!)
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