From Madurai with love
I discovered this drink on the streets of Chennai. I was roaming around as usual. I saw this restaurant called Murugan Idli Shop on North Usman road. It had a stall outside the restaurant that was selling Jigarthanda. Hmmm! Unusual name, innit. So I decided to try the ‘liver cool’, which’s what Jigarthanda literally translates as. A bit of snooping around. And I get to know that the drink’s originally from Madurai. And’s quite the done thing on the streets of Madurai. It’s drunk to help keep the body cool in the heat of Madurai and’s quite a popular drink. Probably that why the name Jigarthanda.
I’d been to Madurai many many years ago. But was just passing through. And don’t really remember seeing this drink on the streets. But I’m told that you get this delicious drink in every nook ‘n corner. The Jigarthanda’s like a almond shake with almond ice cream. But the surprise element in this’s the Badam Pisin which’s the gum obtained from the almond tree. Jigarthanda also contains Nannari Syrup which’s made from the root of the Indian version of Sarsaparilla. Both Nannari ‘n Badam pisin are very good cooling agents. And used fairly extensively in Ayurveda.
The Jigarthanda tasted really special. I feel challenged to describe the flavour. You get almond, but it’s a lot more flavour than just an ordinary almond shake. You’ve to taste the Jigarthanda to really experience the flavours. All I can say it’s super tasty. It’s heavy stuff. But I polished off two glasses. Including the remnants, which I scooped out with my index finger Really very tasty stuff. On the streets of Madurai, the Badam pisin usually gets replaced by Agar, to save money that is. But I feel that the real taste’s in the Badam pisin. And of course, the Nannari syrup has to be made fresh from the roots. The commercial versions are too Bah!
I haven’t been able to crack the history of Jigarthanda ‘n the reason for this unusual name. More updates on this whenever I get to scour the streets of Madurai.
Details of the Jigarthanda shop
Address - No. 46/13, North Usman Road, T. Nagar, Chennai – 17
Timing – 9 am to 930 pm.
Pricing – Rs.40 for the small glass.
Phone number – 044-42084842 and 044-28155399
Website - http://www.muruganidlishop.com As far as I know. All their branches keep the Jigarthanda except for the original one on GN Shetty road. The meal at Murugan Idli shop was decent. Not great, but not too bad either. But I’m not in the business of reviewing restaurants. So this ends here
Location of the Jigarthanda shop in Chennai on Google Maps
About Chowder Singh’s local Chennai food guide
This guide has references to Chowder Singh’s favourite street ‘n local food in Chennai ‘n offbeat eating places. Along with original photos ‘n location on Google maps. Kindly note that Chowder Singh pays for all his meals. There are no listings against freebies or payment. And absolutely no going around looking for free masala dosa. If you’ve had the jigarthanda or other street drink. Please do share your experiences. Either in the comments section below. Or in the Chowder Singh facebook group.
Here’s the link https://www.facebook.com/groups/chowdersingh/
Also, please remember that the pricing of dishes/drinks that I’ve mentioned, are when I’ve visited. They might change over a period of time. I’ve still included these as a general guideline. And, please do remember that I write mostly about street food. I try ‘n write only about those places, which not only serve good food, but seem to maintain good hygiene practices. I suggest, for safety’s sake, it’s always better to eat at a street food place which’s busy. Also, neat ‘n clean. If they’re making an effort to keep the place clean, you can be reasonably sure that they’re also making an effort to serve hygienic food. But I’d say always go by your own instinct. And if you’re not sure, but still like to try, then have only the cooked stuff that’s still warm. Safer that way.
Happy hunting the Jigarthanda ‘n chow-chow!