''Srivilliputhur Palkova'' of Tamil Nadu - What is special about it?

Just like Tirupati Laddu, PalaniPanchamirthamIrudukkadi Halwa of Thirunelveli,   Manapparai Murukku, Sri Villiputhur is famous for Pal Kova -  a delicious sweet item  made from  deep boiling of milk, sugar, etc. The Paal kova made in this place has unique taste native to this place and differs from kova made elsewhere.   A small lump of kova   in your mouth will tickle  your taste buds and increase your sensation to have more and more. There are many dairies in and around this time.  Kovilpatti fame ‘Kadalamittai’ – (peanut candy), ‘Manaparai murukku’and Thirunelveli  Iruttukadi halwa are yet to get the GI tag in food item.

The story of popular Srivilliputhur palkova  goes  as far back as 1921, when it all began with a sweet stall owner one  Dev Singh. It is said he came  to Tamil Nadu as the cavalryman for the kingdom of Sokkampatti. He ran a sweet shop  called   Lala Sweets,  close to the famous Andal temple.  Being inquisitive and hardworking, he got inspiration  from  the temple prasad, containing milk, sugar various nuts and the large production of milk in that area.  Over a period of time, his kova became famous and his legacy continues even today. Lala sweets was renamed  as Sri Venkateswara Vilas which is being run Vijay MerchantIt - its fourth-generation proprietor. His products are being sold like hot cakes. The other well known makers are  Puliyamarathadi Bhagyalakshmi Palkova, and the SCPMPS (society). Sri Vijay has a semi-mechanized unit and they daily produce roughly half-a-ton of palkova for   2,000 liters of milk (with more than 7% fat content).

The local  kova makers  for a long time had  tried hard to get  the ‘Geographical Indication’ (GI) tag for ‘Srivilliputhur palkova.’   SrivilliputhurMilkProducersCooperativesociety(SCPMPS) Produc-ers Cooperativesociety (SCPMPS) spearheaded the move to get the GI tag began their initiative way back in  2013, and their sustained and dedicated efforts came into fruition only after 6 years of continuous demand. 

Srivilliputhur Paalkova facebook.com

Srivilliputhur Paalkova, TN. henativetreats.com

In September, 2019 ''Srivilliputhur ''paalkova''  got  the prestigious GI tag for reasons of its geographical location and source of milk.  This recognition, though belated, made the  makers  quite happy. It was the 32nd product to have bagged the GI tag, The Srivilliputhur-fame palkova is  a big cottage industry in this part and  merchants are keen to  go after large scale marketing of this delicious product.  With this new recognition, Srivilliputhur Palkova can compete internationally 

The product got the GI tag on merit:  

01. Palkova has its origin in the plains that is close to the Western Ghat mountains,  

02. The source of milk is from the local area where rich fodder is available for the cattle,  

03. According to the folklore in the olden days cows used to produce lots of milk  and the teats of milch cattle raised in places such as Vathirairuppu (Watrap), S. Kodikulam and around Srivilliputhur would sometimes overflow with milk, because they were fed  healthy  fodder from the rich fertile soil. 

Location map Srivilliputhur, Tamil nady, weather-forecast.com

 Prepared hygienically  the Srivilliputhur palkova  contains   right proportion of ingredients, the makers follow the old traditional method using  iron utensils with firewood. Sources of firewood are cashew nut shells or tamarind wood. Since 1945 they have been following the time-tested old method. Srivilliputhur Milk Producers Cooperative Society (estd 1945) has about  4,600 members  and their products carry unique taste.  At selected places milk more than 7% fat is sourced from local farmers. For every 10 liter of fat milk 1.5 kg sugar is added. After pasteurization   the mix is set to boil on a stove while  churning.  Toward the end of half hour after continuous stirring  the boiling milk starts to thicken and  then condense,  a part of it sticks  to the side  of the cauldron to be removed later. The decadent dish collected at thee bottom is  removed and placed in racks to be left  to cool for 15 minutes. Three kilos of palkova could be made from 10 liters of fresh wholesome quality milk, There are more than 100 manufacturers of Kova and many of them have registration certificate  under Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).  

Since preservatives are very much restricted the shelf life of pal kova is 15 days and is being sold in packs of 250 grams, 500 grams and one kilo. The sale of kova will be brisk during  Courtallum seasonal days,  Ayyappa  mandala season, Diwali,  Aadi Therottam. With this GI tag, its demand is on the increase in the past one year or so.  There are hundreds of little shops selling this sweet in the car streets around the temple.

The local milk society is against  fully mechanized production of  kova  because  according to  the  manager, they don't want to compromise on quality,  mechanized production may  help  increase the  quantity, but at the cost of quality. So, the possibility of full mechanized  production is ruled out in the future as well. Some units are semi-mechanized. The society is concentrating on overseas market, but the crux of the problem is packaging.  Currently, the only option available is nitrogen gas food packaging, but it will spoil  its original taste,  according to one Kannan of the milk society.  To break into the online and export market, quite imperative is proper packaging.  The shelf life of the product is a hitch and the freshness declines after a week or so.