A trip to Madurai is never complete without the city’s most favourite roadside drink, the Jigarthanda. Like goddess Meenakshi and the fragrant Malli poo, Jigarthanda is synonymous with the temple town.
What separates the Jigarthanda from its northern cousin, the falooda is pisin. While the latter uses vermicelli and is scooped up and eaten, the Jigarthanda is stirred and drunk.
Although the origins of this sugary drink is unresolved, in 1977, S Sheikh Meeran set up shop at the Kaalavasal junction in Madurai and exclusively started selling Jigarthanda.
He prefixed the name of his shop with ‘famous’, believing one day it will become so and thus was born ‘Famous Jigarthanda’, one of the oldest shops selling the summer drink.
Today, his four sons run a chain of 13 outlets in Madurai and another 50 across Tamil Nadu in cities including, Trichy, Salem, Erode, Theni, Tirupur and Chennai.
After experimenting with different concoctions and combinations for three years, S Sheikh Meeran zeroed in on a concoction that is still unchanged today even after 40-odd-years.
The only thing that has changed is the price of the drink that used to cost a humble 30 paise a glass back in 1977 and now costs Rs.30, while the special Jigarthanda with extra dollops of ice cream and malai costs Rs.60
First, two ladles of chilled milk are poured into a glass tumbler, then a spoon of badam pisin is added, followed by some fresh milk.
Layers of basundi are added and topped with a small scoop of ice cream, finishing the drink off with nannari syrup that is spread over like a sauce.
The shop sells 800 to 1,000 glasses of the sweetened drink daily and customers even have the option to take away bottled Jigarthanda.