Belgaum, known as the ‘sugar bowl of Karnataka’ is famous for its karadantu, ‘cycle’ khova, mandige and of course, kunda! In fact, the city is also called Kundagiri after this delectable sweet made from fresh milk, sugar and spices.
According to the locals, the origin of this sweet can be traced back to Gajanan Mithaiwala of Vitthal Dev Galli, Shahapur who set up his shop over six decades ago. Several families including his had migrated to Belagavi from Rajasthan. They used to earn their livelihood by selling their traditional sweets in the market.
It is said that Gajanan Mithaiwala also known as Jakku Marwadi Mithaiwala used to prepare a milk sweet from milk, khova and sugar. Fresh milk would be boiled and khova and sugar would be added in the right measure once the milk started boiling. The mixture would be constantly stirred till it became thick. One day, Jakku forgot about the boiling milk and left it unattended to. The milk slowly began to harden and when Jakku returned to the kitchen, he tasted it and found it to be remarkably sweet.
He added a little quantity of freshly prepared khova and allowed the mixture to boil slowly for a few hours. When he tasted it again, he found it to be even better. He decided to call this ‘accidental’ sweet Kunda!
This dish became popular with his customers and very soon, other families also started preparing their versions of kunda. Over time, kunda has taken on an important role in all festivities and cultural programs. It is best eaten when it is slightly warm or hot, topped with chopped cashew nuts and almonds.
It is next to impossible to make a trip to Belgaum and not taste this mouth-watering sweet unique to North Karnataka and Goa.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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