Asia and Pacific,  India,  Tamil Nadu

Snack Queen of Karaikudi!

Indians love snacking, especially those made at home. I do remember my primary and secondary school days when Amma used to make certain snacks for tea time. By 4.30 pm we would be seated and served with snacks (usually savouries like bhaji and pakoras or murukku) and cups of hot thick milk tea. It was family bonding time for us. The culture is the same with Indians all over the world. Tea-time is relished as everyone shares their experience and aspirations with family members. While the North Indians are associated with rich, milk based sweets, the South Indians’ favourites are deep fried savoury snacks.

Karaikudi, a small town in Chettinad, is well known for savoury and sweet Tamilian snacks. While I was there, practically everyone was talking about a well- known personality in the art of making delicious snacks, both sweet and savoury, one Mrs. AL Soundaram. I had the opportunity to visit her home based ‘factory’ in karaikudi where the specialities are made.


Fifty-nine year old Soundaram is a self-made food entrepreneur. She operates her “food factory” from a landed property in a private housing estate. The production of the snacks takes place in a large thatched roof patio and in some of the rooms in the house which are also used for storage, packing and display. She has about 20 staff, mostly women, wearing aprons, either seated on the floor or on low stools kneading the dough or frying the savouries. It was like a large group of family members having fun working together.


By Singapore standards, I can see that the hygiene rules for food production are flouted. For example, fried savouries are placed on newspapers to absorb the oil! However, Mrs. Soundaram assured me that she does not recycle the oil and that only the best quality ingredients are used. After tasting some of her savouries, I can vouch that what she said was true.

Her savouries and sweets are so popular that she has customers from all over the world. Anyone who places the order must collect the goods themselves. They do not do any delivery service. She claims the Chettiar community from all over the world knows her and usually places order for their weddings and other functions.

Soundaram’s Chettinad Sweets and Snacks

No. 62, M.G. Road 3rd Cross,

Soodamanipuram, Karaikudi.

Tel:  +90 456 565 0733