On A Jigarthanda Trail In Madurai 

Walk around the streets of Madurai for just a little while, and it becomes absolutely clear just how popular jigarthanda is in the city. Every nook and corner has a jigarthanda shop, some boasting of ‘unique taste’. Some shops have locals and tourists alike milling around, while some are empty. As we take this all in, the husband and I decide to try out the jigarthanda at a few different places.

What is this jigarthanda, you ask? It is a drink made of milk and badam pisin, flavoured with either rose syrup or sarsaparilla (nannari) extract, served with a scoop of locally made, fresh ice cream. Sometimes, it also comes topped with tutti-frooti or dry fruits. It is the South Indian version of falooda, if you may.

The name of the drink literally translates to ‘heart cooler’ (‘jigar‘ means ‘Heart’ in Hindi, while ‘thanda‘ means ‘Cool’). The drink is actually supposed to possess great health benefits, is believed to help cool down body heat and aid in the healing of several ailments – all this while being pleasing to the tongue.

But what is a drink with a name like ‘jigarthanda‘ doing in a typically South Indian temple town like Madurai? Where did it come from? No one knows for sure. Some believe that the drink was made popular by the Mughal rulers, that its popularity trickled down South, and it found a home in Madurai. Some others believe that Muslim settlers from Hyderabad brought the drink to Madurai in the 1700s. Some believe that it was a Muslim ice cream maker in Madurai who first invented this drink. Such legends about the origin of the jigarthanda are many, but there seems to be no doubt about one thing – Madurai is the best place to have this drink. Today, Madurai is almost synonymous with jigarthanda, in spite of the drink being available at quite a few places across South India.

Let me tell you about the few places in Madurai that we chose to try out the jil jil jigarthanda, as the locals call it.

Sastha’s, near the Meenakshi Amman temple 

We discovered Sasta’s on our first day in Madurai, walking around the famous Meenakshi Amman temple. The place seemed nice and clean and decent, so we asked for a glass of jigarthanda.

Jigarthanda at Sastha’s

The drink had a lovely taste here, and felt like manna to our parched throats. It was cool and milky, and had just the right amount of the sticky badam pisin in it. We particularly loved the malai ice cream that the drink came topped with.

This jigarthanda was far, far, far better than the version I had once, at a street-side shop in Trichy. 

Murugan Idli Shop, near the Meenakshi Amman temple 

We had heard that the jigarthanda at the famous Murugan Idli Shop in Madurai was lovely, so that was where we headed to for our next sampling of the drink. We chose a ‘Special Jigarthanda‘ here.

Special jigarthanda at Murugan Idli Shop

Sadly, though, this jigarthanda wasn’t the mind-blowing thing we had expected it to be. The taste was just okay, and there was way too much pisin and tutti-frooti in the drink for our liking. Probably, we should have just asked for a ‘regular’ version.

Famous Jigarthanda Shop, East Marret Street

Located on the busy East Marret Street in Madurai, the Famous Jigarthanda Shop is one of the oldest outlets in the city selling the drink. The jigarthanda here is believed to be the best in Madurai, and I am glad we managed to visit it – we were almost going to give it a miss, due to paucity of time.

People say that Famous has been maintaining consistent quality and taste in its jigarthanda, ever since the shop came into existence in 1977. There’s only one item on the menu here – jigarthanda – and that is enough to attract people in droves. We visited the shop at about 11 AM on a weekend, and it was buzzing like a beehive!

Top: Famous Jigarthanda Shop on East Marret Street, Bottom: The jigarthanda we had at Famous

The jigarthanda here was simply awesome, truly the best out of all those we had tried thus far. Unlike other places, this jigarthanda had a lovely brown colour and a rich, beautiful taste to it. I hear Famous adds basundi – made using a secret recipe – to its jigarthanda, and that is what gives the drink its gorgeous colour and flavour.

Some say Famous was the inventor of the jigarthanda, the shop that brought the drink to Madurai first of all. Whatever legends might say, this is, unarguably, one of the best jigarthanda I have ever had. Don’t miss this place, if you ever visit Madurai, I urge you!

And that was the end of our jigarthanda sampling trail in Madurai, if you could call it that. Trying authentic jigarthanda in Madurai is now finally, officially crossed off my bucket list!


Have you tried jigarthanda, ever? How did you like it? 

Which is the best place you have had this drink? 


A Very Mexican Birthday Lunch At Chinita, Indiranagar

For my birthday this year, the husband and I decided to head to Chinita in Indiranagar for a Mexican lunch. This post is about our experience at the eatery.

Location and ambience

Chinita is a small place in Indiranagar, one among the multitude of restaurants that the locality boasts of. The eatery had been on my hit-list for quite some time, though, because of the rave reviews I had been hearing about the food here. We decided to head to Chinita because we wanted to try out the ‘authentic’ Mexican food that we heard that this place serves, vis a vis the fare at Mexican food chains like Taco Bell.

The eatery wasn’t tough to locate. We went in just a bit before the lunch rush had started, so we got seats immediately. Very soon, the place got quite crowded (it was a weekend when we visited), and I hear weekends are always like that here. They don’t accept reservations over the weekends, so you just have to head down and try your luck, like we did.

Chinita has a nice, relaxed vibe to it. It has the feel of a casual dining area, with its brick walls and wooden benches and tables. The small potted plants on each table charmed us, as did the arrangement of plants alongside the door. We also loved that the place is bright and airy, and not dull and dingy.


Mexican music was playing in full swing while we visited and, with the lunch hour noise of patrons, it was tough to hold a conversation as we ate. I wish this could be rectified, though, I must say, the music was lively and energetic and beautiful – something I’d like to listen to.

The food and drinks

Like I said before Chinita serves Mexican fare, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.

First up, we asked for an Almond Horchata, a traditional Mexican non-alcoholic drink made of almond meal and rice. We were told that a horchata is not for everyone and that liking one needs an acquired taste, but we decided to go for one all the same. I took one sip and realised that it wasn’t for me. The husband loved it, and so the drink was duly given to him.

I went for a Virgin Margarita, with fresh lime juice and pineapple. I loved this, and sipped on it through our meal.

On the left: Almond Horchata, on the right: Virgin Margarita

Then, we ordered an appetiser of Mexican-style grilled corn which is, apparently, all the rage on the streets of Mexico. The corn came beautifully done, with just the right amount of cheese and chilli powder smeared on it, served with wedges of lemon. Both the husband and I loved this dish to bits. Both of us would need one full plate of the appetiser for ourselves, though!

Mexican-style grilled corn

Then, for the main course, we opted for Roasted Cauliflower Tacos which, we were told, wasn’t a part of the regular menu, but became quite popular with the patrons when the eatery served it at Christmas-time, resulting in them still making it. The tacos were good but, we felt, the stuffing lacked the ‘Wow!’ factor – it could have done with some more flavour.

We also ordered a Sauteed Green Peppers And Onions Burrito, asking for it to be divided into two portions. Overall, we liked the burrito, but we felt, again, that the stuffing could have done with more flavour. It had too much rice in it, too. Good, but not great.

The tacos weren’t very filling, but the burrito was.

On the left: Roasted Cauliflower Tacos, on the right: Sauteed Green Peppers And Onions Burrito

We had a little space in our tummies left by then, so we went for a Roasted Zucchini And Corn Burrito Bowl. Again, we felt that the dish was good, but not great because it lacked flavour. The dish was quite filling.

Roasted Zucchini And Corn Burrito Bowl

We finished up our meal with some churros (how could we not?!), served straight off the stove in a mug, with a liberal dosing of cinnamon sugar on them, along with a small cup of molten chocolate. The churros were just lovely, and both of us loved them. They were nice and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside – just perfect. The chocolate was so delicious I licked off every last bite of it!

My first-ever tryst with churros – can you believe it?


Service was quite fast, we felt. The staff was attentive, friendly and courteous, offering suggestions and enquiring whether we liked the food at every stage through the meal.


Prices are on the higher side. We paid about INR 1600 for our meal, inclusive of taxes.

Overall experience

We loved the place and the service here, but our overall experience with the food was a little disappointing. Value for money, this meal didn’t feel like, sadly. 

Everything we ordered was very, very fresh. However, our taste buds probably need more of a punch than that, I think. 

I might go back to this place, maybe once, to try out their nachos, toastadas, enchiladas and guacamole, of which I’ve heard good things. 

South Indian-Style Raw Turmeric Pickle 

Summer is slowly closing in on Bangalore, and the days are getting hotter. There’s still a nip in the air in the mornings, though, and sometimes in the evenings. I think I should tell you all about the winter-special raw turmeric pickle that I made about a month ago, before winter leaves us once and for all. 

Bunches of raw turmeric sold in the Bangalore markets, just before Pongal

Come Pongal, and bunches of raw turmeric start making an appearance in the markets of Bangalore. They play an important role in the Pongal celebrations, tied around the pot in which sakkarai pongal is cooked on the day of the festival. The turmeric makes for a beautiful pickle too, which is believed to generate heat in the body, much needed in the months of winter, and help internal wounds to heal. 

I make the raw turmeric pickle the traditional South Indian way, the way it has always been made in our family. I am sure there must be other ways of pickling raw turmeric, but this is the way we have always made it. 

South Indian-style raw turmeric pickle, the way my family always makes it. Hand model: Amma

Here is how we make the pickle. 

Ingredients (makes a small bottle) :

  1. 100 grams raw turmeric 
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 2 tablespoons oil
  4. 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  5. A pinch of asafoetida
  6. Juice of 2 lemons
  7. 2 green chillies, slit


1. Wash the turmeric roots thoroughly under running water, ensuring that they are completely free of dirt. Pat them dry using a cotton towel. Make sure no moisture remains on the roots. 

2. Peel the turmeric and chop it into small pieces. 

3. Take the chopped turmeric in a large mixing bowl. Add salt to taste, the slit green chillies, and lemon juice. Keep aside. 

4. Heat the oil in a pan, and add the mustard seeds. Let them pop. Switch off the gas, and add the asafoetida. Let it stay in the hot oil for a second, then add all of the seasoning to the other ingredients in the mixing bowl. 

5. Mix well. Let the pickle cool down completely, and then transfer it to a clean, dry bottle, preferably glass. 


1. The pickle can be stored for 4-5 days at room temperature, slightly longer if refrigerated. 

2. Always use a clean, dry spoon to take the pickle out of the bottle. 

3. Store the pickle in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight. 

4. This pickle has a rather strong taste of turmeric, so not everyone might like it. Also, one can eat this pickle only in small quantities, thanks to the strong taste. It makes for a wonderful accompaniment to curd rice. 

5. To tone down the strong taste of turmeric, some people pickle it along with mango ginger and raw ginger. I prefer making the turmeric pickle separately, though. 

You like? How does your family pickle raw turmeric?

Birthday Special Bhapa Doi| Bengali Steamed Yogurt| OPOS Recipe| Easy Dessert Recipe

A day before my birthday, recently, I decided to try my hands at making Bhapa Doi, the famed Bengali curd-based cheesecake, at home. I found a recipe that sounded too simple to be true. I had all the ingredients at hand, too. I gave it a shot, and the end result was so, so, so very gorgeous! A great birthday gift to myself, me thinks.

I used the OPOS (One Pot One Shot) method to make the bhapa doi, using a pressure cooker. It needed just two ingredients, and was so easy to put together that even a child could do it. It unmoulded beautifully, and the taste was so lovely we couldn’t keep our hands off it. What more could you ask out of a dessert?!

On the left is the bhapa doi, just out of the pressure cooker, ready to be cut. On the right is the bhapa doi that has been cut – can you see its gorgeous texture?

This recipe is surely a keeper, I say. It is a life-saver when you have guests coming over and you need to whip up a quick dessert, or when you need a sweet pick-me-up yourself and are in no mood to labour for hours over the stove. You need to try this recipe out to believe it, honestly!

Here’s how I made it.

Ingredients (makes 5-6 servings):

  1. 400 grams sweetened condensed milk (I used Amul Mithai Mate)
  2. 1 cup fresh curd (Use curd that isn’t too sour or too watery)
  3. Ghee/ unsalted butter to grease the vessel you will make the bhapa doi in


  1. Pour the sweetened condensed milk in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the curd to the mixing bowl. If you want to add any flavouring – like mango puree or cardamon powder or saffron – you must do so just after you add the curd. I didn’t use any flavouring agents, and yet, the bhapa doi tasted just awesome.
  3. Whisk the two ingredients well, until they are thoroughly combined.
  4. Grease a bowl with ghee or unsalted butter, and pour the mixture into it.
  5. Add about 1.5 cups water to a pressure cooker bottom, and set it on the gas. Put in the bowl. You could use a stand below the bowl to avoid water getting into it, or even cover the bowl. I left the bowl open.
  6. Close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Turn the flame down to medium.
  7. Let it cook for 15 minutes exactly, and then switch off the gas.
  8. Let the pressure release naturally, and then open the cooker. Gently drain out any water that might have entered the bowl.
  9. Slide the bhapa doi onto a serving plate. Turn the bowl upside down over a large serving plate, and the bhapa doi will slide onto it. (See the video that I have linked to, above, to understand this step better).
  10. Let cool slightly and then cut into pieces. You can serve it warm, cold or chilled in the refrigerator.

You like? I hope you will try this out at home, and that you will love it just as much as we did!


Recipe courtesy:

The term OPOS and One Pot One Shot are registered trademarks owned by Mr.Rama Krishna. This recipe has been obtained from the United By Food FB page.


Want to read about my other experiments with the OPOS way of cooking? Here you go:

OPOS Coffee Flan

OPOS Papad Pickle Pulao

My First Ever Raindrop Cake Experience, At My Cousin’s Place, Bangalore

Imagine a cake that looks exactly like a drop of water. Cut into it, and you feel its lightness – it feels like you are cutting a drop of water. The taste too is exactly the same – just like a drop of water. That is Mizu Shingen Mochi, the Japanese dessert, for you.

The back story

Popularly known as ‘Raindrop Cake’, Mizu Shingen Mochi is the brainchild of the Kinseiken Seika company of Japan. ‘Mizu‘, in Japanese, means ‘water’, and ‘Shingen Mochi‘ is a kind of rice cake that is popular all over Japan. Thus, ‘Mizu Shignen Mochi‘ literally translates to ‘water cake‘. Apparently, the company makes the cake using fresh water from the Japanese Alps, which is so sweet and tasty that the cake doesn’t need any other flavouring!

This dessert was all over the international food world in 2016 and, of course, I wanted a bite of it, too. 🙂

I understand the dessert dissolves into a puddle of water within 30 minutes of being served. Thanks to this fragility, the cake isn’t available at a lot of places, even in Japan. So, when I heard of this eatery called My Cousin’s Place in HSR Layout serving the cake, I had to drag the husband there, one fine weekend, to sample it! (My Cousin’s Place, BTW, earlier used to operate in Electronic City, and has now shifted to HSR Layout. It has a very different-from-the-usual concept of dining, but more about that later. This post is all about the raindrop cake.)

How was my first tryst with the raindrop cake?

When the raindrop cake arrived at our table, the husband and I ooh-ed and aah-ed over it. It looked exactly like a droplet of water on a leaf! This is a work of art all right!

Raindrop cake at My Cousin’s Place

The cake felt and tasted exactly as I had imagined it to be. It felt like a drop of water on my tongue. The cake had no flavour of its own, deriving all its taste only from the mildly sweet powder and syrup it was served with, just as it is supposed to be.

I understand that, traditionally, in Japan, the cake is served with kinako soyabean powder and brown sugar syrup. At My Cousin’s Place, too, I guess, the same two flavouring agents were offered along with the cake. The Japanese often add fresh or dried sakura blossoms to their raindrop cakes, I gather, which, of course, weren’t present in this Indian version.

Considering that I have never sampled the original cake from Japan and have no benchmark to measure this dessert against, I will refrain from doing the same.

Did I like it? Not really. The cake is, obviously, very different from the typical Indian and international desserts that we are used to, so it definitely possesses a novelty value. However, it didn’t satiate the huge sweet tooths that my husband and I possess. But still, this is something really, really cool – something that every foodie must try out at least once in their lifetime. Sampling this cake for the first ever time was, definitely, a dream come true for me, an experience I will cherish forever.


For those of you who are interested, the cake is priced at INR 100 at My Cousin’s Place. You might want to enquire whether the cake is available before you visit, though.


This cake makes it to the list of seemingly crazy food stuff we have tried out. 

Would you like to know about the other things on the list? Here you go! 

Ice cream sandwich and momo sizzlerDoodh colasea salt chocolatechandan sherbetmomo burger and chocolate momoice cream rollsice cream chaatbhoo chakra gadderasgulla chaatchilli chocolate,fried ice cream, and paper sweet.