If ‘Famous Jigarthanda’ has become a household name in the city, it is because of the concerted efforts of S. Amanullah and his three brothers.
“Our customers gifted us the name ‘famous’ to identify our shop. It stayed and we just made use of it,” he chuckles.
Located on the busy East Marret and South Masi Street junction, the jigarthanda shop attracts at least few hundreds everyday and peaks further during summer.
The business was started by his father P.S. Sheik Meeran in 1977. “We are from Aaraampannai Village near Tirunelveli. My father first sold ice creams made of milk, sugar and vanilla essence for existence. ,” he says.
The ice cream immediately became the most sought after and people fondly called it as ‘Bhai’ ice cream. In the evenings, Sheik Meeran started selling jigarthanda in push cart. “Though this drink is available everywhere, ours is quite different from the others. We mixed ‘basundi’ to add more taste to the drink,” Amanullah says.
S. Peer Mohammed his eldest brother takes care of the Anna Nagar branch, while the next one, S. Zinda Madhar, is in charge of the shop on East Marret Street. The third brother S. Shahul Hameed takes care of the godown. The youngest sibling Amanullah, takes the shop’s name and fame beyond the city limits. He is in-charge of the out-station orders. “We are supplying regularly for weddings and other functionsin Erode, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Chennai and Bangalore,” he says.
Amanullah sells two types of jigarthanda. The ordinary one is sold for Rs.20 while the special one costs Rs.40. The main ingredients that go into the making of jigarthanda are milk, almond pisin, basundi, ice cubes and sherbeth. The special variety has more khoya than the ordinary one. “We prepare our own sherbeth. It is tough because proper care during the preparation is a must and that is the secret of our success.”
“Credit goes to my eldest brother who set up this shop here and started selling jigarthanda during daytime. I grew up seeing my father and my brothers toiling in the kitchen,” he says.
Though the next generation has moved out of the business and are into academics, he hopes they will lend their professional knowledge to expand the business further.
No doubt, Famous Jigarthanda is the signature drink of Madurai and the shop is a not-to-be-missed destination for the visiting tourists.
(A fortnightly column on men and women who make Madurai what it is)