Saturday 7 November 2015

Mysore Pak (மைசூர் பாகு)

Mysore pak (மைசூர் பாகு) has been served in feasts during festivals and weddings for many generations. My grandmother used to make it for Diwali. I have tasted different types of Mysore pak from the firm ones made in the sweet shops or ‘lala kadai’ (லாலா கடை) to the very soft ones that are made by traditional cooks. According to legend, around the year 1935, this sweet was first made by the Mysore royal chef Kakasura Madappa to serve the then King of Mysore, Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV. The king enjoyed the new sweet 'Mysore paka', which was soon designated as the royal sweet! Mysore pak is a very tasty sweet, but has high content of sugar and ghee! Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to indulge once in a while, especially when 'king of the sweets' is tempting you! So, let’s make Mysore pak for this Diwali! Here we go.

Ingredients: (Makes 25-30 pieces depending on the size)

Fig.1: String consistency
Bengal gram flour or besan (கடலை மாவு) – 1 teacup or 200ml measure
Sugar – 3 teacups or 600ml measure
Ghee – 1½ teacup or 300ml measure*

*Mysore pak made with these ingredients is soft and just melts in your mouth. However, if you want the sweet to be very soft, increase the quantity of ghee to 2½ teacups or 500ml (!).

Method: Smear a tray with ghee and keep aside. Heat sugar with 1¼ teacup (250ml) of water in a fairly large kadai and bring it to boil. Then reduce the flame to medium, and keep stirring till the syrup reaches string consistency. 

How to check the consistency of sugar syrup: Place a drop of the syrup on a plate and let it cool. Touch the syrup with your index finger and press it with your thumb. Then separate the fingers. If the syrup stretches as a thick string between the fingers, it has reached the right ‘string consistency’ (கம்பிப் பாகு). See Figure 1.

Now start adding Bengal gram flour using a tea filter little by little. Take 1 tablespoon of Bengal gram flour and sprinkle it using the tea filter while stirring continuously to avoid forming lumps (Fig.2). You may take the help of someone else if you find it difficult to manage both tasks.
Fig.2: Sprinkle Bengal gram flour using a tea filter
Once the flour is fully mixed with the sugar syrup, add 1 teaspoon of ghee and blend well with the contents (Fig.3).

Fig.3: Add ghee and flour alternatively
Likewise keep adding Bengal gram flour and ghee alternatively till the entire quantity of flour is used up (Fig.4).

Fig.4: Contents after all the flour is added
Now add in the remaining ghee little by little, as you keep stirring the contents. Continue to cook on medium flame till the contents start to froth and form a mass (Fig.5). At this stage, you would smell the nice aroma of Mysore pak.

Fig.5: Contents froth and form a mass
Switch off the stove and transfer the contents to the greased tray. Smear little ghee on the undersurface of a katori (small serving cup), and use it to gently press and flatten the surface of the sweet (Fig.6).

Fig.6: Spread the contents in a greased tray
Allow the sweet to cool for 15-20 minutes. Later, cut the sweet in to square or rectangular pieces using a knife (Fig.7).
Fig.7: Cut the sweet into pieces
When Mysore pak cools to room temperature, separate the pieces and store them in clean, dry, air-tight container. Try the 'king of sweets' this Diwali!

Mysore Pak (மைசூர் பாகு)
Note: I have used a tray that is 1" deep, and the proposed quantity of ingredients have yielded 25 pieces (approximately 1" x 1" x 1" size). However, if you use a shallow tray you may get up to 30-35 pieces of Mysore pak.

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