Nutty, nougaty, nostalgia: Tasting kasakasa halwa in Coimbatore’s JKR Homely Foods

Despite a history as sweet as its flavour, kasakasa halwa has been an underrated sweet in Coimbatore’s culinary history

February 27, 2024 05:02 pm | Updated 05:02 pm IST

Kasakasa halwa made using poppy seeds, ghee and sugar

Kasakasa halwa made using poppy seeds, ghee and sugar | Photo Credit: subodhsathe

As the poppy seeds blend with ghee in delicate proportions, kasakasa halwa is ready at JKR Homely Foods, retaining its culinary tradition and nostalgia. With its nutty nuance, the grainy kasakasa slowly melts into the palate with the essence of ghee that lingers for some time. Srinivasan, the shop’s owner, has interesting stories about this particular halwa, a traditional dish he learned from his ancestors. Selling it for more than five years, he reminisces about its rich legacy, which is still unfamiliar to the public.

With a history as sweet as its flavour, this time-honoured recipe involves meticulous steps, from soaking and grinding kasakasa to the precise moment of adding sugar and ghee. It is still prepared and preserved in the traditional way without a change in its recipe that has graced palates of more than five generations.

Curious case it was, as this traditional dish was never found among the mainstream food kiosks or confectioneries. Only a few people know about it despite its long history. On inquiring about its limited presence, Srinivasan speculates this exclusivity is a deliberate effort rooted in food politics or an intentional desire to keep the recipe behind closed kitchen walls, possibly guarding the temperature maintenance as a valuable business secret.

According to Srinivasan, the sweet is primarily restricted to the Vaishya community. “Various communities have various food traditions. Every Vaishya household is familiar with the kasakasa halwa,” he says.

Tracing his ancestral roots to Andhra, Srinivasan says that his ancestors carried their traditional recipes wherever they went. Srinivasan says the halwa offers health benefits as well. From attenuating stomach ulcers to reducing body heat, truck/bus drivers and people in workshops consider it very important, as it helps keep their bodies cool.

However, the current generation is not taking it forward, says Sreenivasan. “If it is hand-mixed, the taste is amazing. But the process is tedious and laborious, and no one does it. Based on my experience, I believe the fate of all traditional dishes will be the same by 2035. Everyone will have food from restaurants, and many dishes like these will disappear soon,” he says.

Kasakasa halwa is among many items sold in JKR Homely Foods. The main one is idiyappam; there is also sevaipappu roti, thatta murukku, and many pickle varieties.

The shop is open from 6.30am to 10.30pm at 246, Sulivan Street. One kilogram of halwa costs ₹1000

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