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Mysore Pak


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Ever had Mysore Pak before? I have no idea what it's made of - though if I had to theorize I'd say a quart of butter and enough powdered sugar to make a thick paste, and that's IT (maybe a little cardamom and salt). I could eat this stuff until I weigh 1300 lbs. I don't WANT to know how to make it. But has anyone else ever sampled its divinity?

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This dessert comes from Southern India. My mother once made it for us at home when we were living in Nagpur. My fathers boss was from Madras. His wife taught her how to make this. It was not the easiest dessert to make at home. It is divine though.

Where did you have it?

I have never seen a decent preparation of it in NYC.

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Ever had Mysore Pak before?  I have no idea what it's made of - though if I had to theorize I'd say a quart of butter and enough powdered sugar to make a thick paste, and that's IT (maybe a little cardamom and salt).  I could eat this stuff until I weigh 1300 lbs.

It,s very simple to make and tastes great. Can't stop eating it. Thinking about it I weigh about 1500 LBS.

Here you go:

Ingredients:

2 cups gram flour

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups ghee

1 1/2 cups water

Preparation:

Place 1 cup ghee and gram flour in a pan over low heat and fry till light brown.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat a sauce pan, boil sugar and water to a syrup, add little ghee to it and stir.

Add gram flour and stir continuously over a medium heat. Next add the remaining ghee and mix well.

When the mixture comes out from the bottom of the container, take out the mixture and spread into a greased tray.

Cut into squares or triangles. Let it cool.

Serve warm or cold.

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Prasad, is it really this simple?

You make it sound really easy.

I was 7 years old when I saw my mother make this... I remember bubbles from the syrup, I remember the handling of something hot.. and I remember holes in the mysore pak.. and I remember good mysore paks being very light and having lots of air pockets....

And all of this soooo simple, eh?

Thanks for the recipe.

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Prasad, is it really this simple?

You make it sound really easy.

I was 7 years old when I saw my mother make this... I remember bubbles from the syrup, I remember the handling of something hot.. and I remember holes in the mysore pak.. and I remember good mysore paks being very light and having lots of air pockets....

And all of this soooo simple, eh?

Thanks for the recipe.

Suvir

I remembered it being simple. I was a kid too then in a small town of Warangal in A.P. I use to watch an Halwai (Dessert Maker) in a sweet shop, can you believe in those old days, this Mithai (Sweet Shop) had a concept of open kitchen for sweets?

Of course I fine tuned the recipe with my mom. You are right this sweet is porous and light and crisp.

Tips: Seive the flour atleast three times before you saute the gram flour and when you add it to the syrup, whisk continuesly, let it not form lumps. Two hands have to work together otherwise take help from a second person. (Almost like upma)

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Very glad that Smartotron started this thread. Thanks to Suvir and Prasad2 for their info and reminiscences.

Mysore Pak is interesting, even fascinating, to me because it is a flour-based sweet in which the flour (besan) is cooked before incorporation with the liquid ingredients. Can one think of any other sweet (Indian or otherwise) for which this is so?

It's also interesting because despite the deceptive banality of its ingredient list, it provides such a complex taste sensation! The brittle texture is perhaps the most notable part, but (as has been noted already) it is complemented by a light, airy structure when the sweet is made properly. Furthermore, there's a balance in taste between the sweetness and the strong roasted (almost savory) flavor from the besan.

A somewhat silly question, but what, generically, is a Pak? Are there other "Paks" out there other than Mysore Pak?

As someone has attempted to make Mysore Pak a few times, I have been interested in the variations in recipes that I've found. Perhaps the most important is how and when the besan is added to the syrup:

One technique, and intuitively the best to me (so I haven't really tried the other ways), is similar to that in the recipe by generously provided by Prasad2. The besan is cooked in the ghee until light brown before being added to the boiling syrup.

However, other techniques that I've seen (this is from memory, so I apologize if the attributions are inaccurate):

  • Cooking the besan by itself before adding to ghee-laced syrup (Yamuna Devi). What would be the advantage of this? Wouldn't it increase the chances of burning the besan and hinder incorporation into the final mixture? (This seems analogous in some ways to the roux vs. browned-flour issue in making thickening Western gravies.)
  • Heating the besan in ghee for only a few seconds before adding to syrup (Dakshin). This presumably is for those who would prefer less of a roasted flavor, but do such people exist? Isn't the roasted flavor the primary reason why you would eat Mysore Pak as opposed to Besan Ladoo or some such alternative?
  • Perhaps most strangely (at least in my opinion), there are those (Tarla Dalal) who advocate pouring uncooked besan into the boiling syrup. Again, why would you want to do this? She also advocates exotic techniques such as mixing the gram flour with plain white flour, and (sit down when you read this) pouring three cups of ghee into the flour/syrup mixture, setting it in the pan, poking a hole in in it, then pouring out most of the ghee! Has anyone heard of such a thing?!

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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  • Cooking the besan by itself before adding to ghee-laced syrup (Yamuna Devi). What would be the advantage of this? Wouldn't it increase the chances of burning the besan and hinder incorporation into the final mixture? (This seems analogous in some ways to the roux vs. browned-flour issue in making thickening Western gravies.)
  • Heating the besan in ghee for only a few seconds before adding to syrup (Dakshin). This presumably is for those who would prefer less of a roasted flavor, but do such people exist?  Isn't the roasted flavor the primary reason why you would eat Mysore Pak as opposed to Besan Ladoo or some such alternative?
  • Perhaps most strangely (at least in my opinion), there are those (Tarla Dalal) who advocate pouring uncooked besan into the boiling syrup. Again, why would you want to do this?  She also advocates exotic techniques such as mixing the gram flour with plain white flour, and (sit down when you read this) pouring three cups of ghee into the flour/syrup mixture, setting it in the pan, poking a hole in in it, then pouring out most of the ghee!  Has anyone heard of such a thing?!

You impress me with your knowledge of Indian sweets. Wow! I love sweets. And I live for sweets. Besan happens to be one of my favorite ingredients to work with. It also happens to be one of the trickier ones. You are absolutely correct about roasting being a critical element. Savory or sweet, it is the roasting that makes all the difference. Thanks for elevating this thread into even greater levels with your insightful post.

Cooking the besan before adding it into the ghee-laced syrup (as Yamuna Devi suggests) makes complete sense to the Northerner in me. We are not into eating flours that have not been amply and perfectly cooked. Besan is especially one of those ones where very careful and complete roasting is necessary and will make a worlds difference in the end result. But is this necessary for Mysore Pak? I am not sure. Mysore Pak is not my favorite Besan desserts. I ate it as a kid in Nagpur, and the romance ended when we came back to Delhi. Patisa and Sohn Papri are far higher in my list of Besan desserts. And both of these are very similar to Mysore Pak. They just happen to be made with more roasted besan and seem far more tedious to make. Have you had either of these? They are not available in any suitable rendering in the US. I know Haldirams makes a version that comes in packaged boxes that can last a lifetime on the shelf, and the end result is something good but a lifetime away from what it really should be. Roasting the besan before adding to the syrup does not burn the besan in the other two desserts I mention. So, I see no reason for it to happen with Mysore Pak. But I am sure one needs to be very careful with these desserts to begin with.

Dakshin is a great book, in fact one of my all time favorite cookbooks from the Indian genre. It is visually just as compelling as the recipes it chronicles. I have often found the recipes lacking in tested instruction. Some fail me if I were testing them blindly, without any background in Indian cookery. That is not what I would want to rely on in a cookbook. But again, most cooks bring their experience into every culinary indulgence. When I test recipes, I want to test them fully. If they fail, I ascribe it to a failure in chronicling every fugitive detail that the author could share, but somehow escaped in the written recipe. Maybe the few seconds you mention could be more like a couple of minutes?? Who knows... as I said, I am no expert at Mysore Pak preparation. In fact, the author of Dakshin (who I greatly respect and thank for that beautiful and amazing book of Southern Indian cookery) may be accurate in not wanting the besan roasted much at all. That is one of the main reasons I am no great fan of Mysore Pak, I find the besan a bit raw for me most all times I have had it. A good Besan Ladoo should be the color that comes by marrying dark amber to golden sand. And to get that color, besan has to be browned over a low flame for a substantial amount of time, stirring vigorously and that ensures you have even browning of the flour. Besan Ladoos, if made as they would be in Agra at Soami Bagh, or prepared by a Misrani (female Brahmin chef from Western UP) or a maharaj or pandit (male Brahman chef, like Panditji in our home in Delhi) or a halwai of any repute (professional dessert chef selling sweet stuff in a shop in the city), will be made from very well roasted Besan. In fact Besan is roasted to the point where the Sondhi Khusboo (the savory perfume of roasting besan in ghee becomes really intense and all in that area have reacted about it) has gotten to be strong and intense. This is the point where if you do not stop immediately, within seconds, the besan can burn. A good Besan Ladoo is made with such care and commitment to the roasting of besan. In fact, one usually adds almonds into the mix and at this point, the almonds would have become amber colored, but not brown. The sugar is added next, after removing from the fire. Besan ke Ladoo have a far richer and intense flavor and smell of roasted Besan. But again, in the US, I have not eaten any in the markets that even come close to my own not as stellar rendering of what we had delivered from Agra to our home in Delhi or what Panditji would make. In Denver, I have made Besan Ladoos often enough and with great reverence for the art of making them, that my father suggested I move to Delhi and open an old fashioned Halwai kee Dukan (Indian pastry shop).

I have hardly followed Tarla Dalal after I turned 12. My mother did not own any of her books (shocking :shock: , her friends could not believe it), but we had Panditji and my mothers notes from studying under Mrs. Balbir Singh. I used to borrow her books from a neighbor. I would make cookies using her books. They were awful. I enjoyed them as a kid. But would never make them again. She is prolific and has done an amazing amount of work in the world of cookery in India. She could easily be called the Martha Stewart of India. I am sorry though, I hardly have much experience with her books and her style to comment.

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Suvir and SkChai

What a great post and indepth. One can only say you learn everyday and this case I am....

Mysore pak, I like it when it is just done.. still warm.

Besan (lentil flour) is used in several kabab coatings and even there it is roasted before it is added to meat or fish.

I would think the roasting process takes away the raw smell of the flour. Is it got something to do with this smell or is it done for digestion purpose?

Another sweet I can think is sheera (Maharashtrian) wher you roast semolina (rawa / sooji) before you finish your sweet.

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I would think the roasting process takes away the raw smell of the flour. Is it got something to do with this smell or is it done for digestion purpose?

It has got something to do with both smell and also besan becoming easier to digest after it is roasted. :smile:

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I had Mysore Pak in, where else, Mysore (city) :)

What a beautiful city. :smile:

When was the last time you made Mysore Pak?

Also going back Skchai's question about the name... Mysore, as Smarmotron mentions, is a famous city of Southern India.

Pak at least in hindi would mean edible and in Urdu, it means pure.

Pakwan is the word for food.

But I have no clue why the name is Mysore Pak. I wish someone from Southern India or someone familiar with the languages of the Sub Continent would help us here. I am curious now as well.

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Suvir, many thanks for your detailed and generous response to my inquiry.

Cooking the besan before adding it into the ghee-laced syrup (as Yamuna Devi suggests) makes complete sense to the Northerner in me. We are not into eating flours that have not been amply and perfectly cooked.

Neither am I - nothing is more off-putting in a sweet than consuming raw flour! The question I had about Yamuna Devi's recipe is that she roasts the besan without ghee, cooking the ghee separately with the syrup.

Patisa and Sohn Papri are far higher in my list of Besan desserts. And both of these are very similar to Mysore Pak. They just happen to be made with more roasted besan and seem far more tedious to make. Have you had either of these?

Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to try either. But your comment piqued by curiousity and I did a web search. This recipe on Bawarchi.com (part of Sify) seems to have a very similar ingredient list as Mysore Pak, but as you mentioned the proportion of flour is larger. Also, the syrup is added to the flour mixture rather than the other way around, and the final product is rolled out in bar cookie fashion. (Mysore Pak would be too crumbly to roll?)

Dakshin is a great book, in fact one of my all time favorite cookbooks from the Indian genre. It is visually just as compelling as the recipes it chronicles. I have often found the recipes lacking in tested instruction.

I agree with you completely. I've probably spent as much time simply leafing through that book as I have any cookbook I own. Yet the recipes can sometimes be slightly cryptic to the outsider. It seems the book was first published in India, then republished (with the beautiful photographs added) in Australia.

Besan Ladoos, if made as they would be in Agra at Soami Bagh, or prepared by a Misrani (female Brahmin chef from Western UP) or a maharaj or pandit (male Brahman chef, like Panditji in our home in Delhi) or a halwai of any repute (professional dessert chef selling sweet stuff in a shop in the city), will be made from very well roasted Besan. In fact Besan is roasted to the point where the Sondhi Khusboo (the savory perfume of roasting besan in ghee becomes really intense and all in that area have reacted about it) has gotten to be strong and intense. This is the point where if you do not stop immediately, within seconds, the besan can burn. A good Besan Ladoo is made with such care and commitment to the roasting of besan.

Thanks for that insight and recollection. I never realized that Besan Ladoo could be made in such a way! All my experience has been with store-bought product which was too sweet and hardly roasted at all. Hence my impression that it was less roasted than Mysore Pak. I guess in either case it's just a matter of who makes it. Sondhi Khusboo - I feel like I've learned something very profound!

I have hardly followed Tarla Dalal after I turned 12. My mother did not own any of her books (shocking  , her friends could not believe it), but we had Panditji and my mothers notes from studying under Mrs. Balbir Singh. I used to borrow her books from a neighbor. I would make cookies using her books. They were awful. I enjoyed them as a kid. But would never make them again. She is prolific and has done an amazing amount of work in the world of cookery in India. She could easily be called the Martha Stewart of India. I am sorry though, I hardly have much experience with her books and her style to comment.

Given how prolific she is and how many books she has sold in India, it is notable how little her reputation has not carried over to the U.S., even among fans of Indian food. Perhaps one reason is that she writes Miss Beeton-style collections of recipes for the harried housewife rather than Madhur Jaffrey-style ethnographies that might appeal to inquisitive foreigners. Her recipes do not

Another major Indian foodie whose profile in the U.S. is notably modest is Jiggs Kalra. But this seems to be for very different reasons - he assumes a very knowledgable audience, and though he is a good English stylist, his form of writing might be jarring to foreigners - how, for instance, do you translate into American, "Resist (the Jingha Achaar) or the stomach will go for for a six"?

Pak at least in hindi would mean edible and in Urdu, it means pure

Ahh . . . as in Pakistan!

Prasad, thanks for your insights:

Besan (lentil flour) is used in several kabab coatings and even there it is roasted before it is added to meat or fish.

That's quite interesting! There is no precedent I know of for roasting flour (of any kind) in the West prior to coating meats for cooking. Roasted flour or roux is confined to gravies. West African grilled meats are sometimes covered in the coating of chopped roasted peanuts, but that's not quite the same thing!

Another sweet I can think is sheera (Maharashtrian) wher you roast semolina (rawa / sooji) before you finish your sweet.

Thanks for this info as well. I guess a similar idea in principle to seviyan payasam? While everyone knows that Indian cooking makes sophisticated use of spices and flavorings, I'm always impressed by the wide range of cooking techniques that are largely unknown in the in the West.

Which brings me to another question: contrary to this principle, the rice for kheer / rice payasam doesn't seem to be sauteed in ghee prior to the addition of milk. Why not? I realize there may be no clear answer to this. . .

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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In Indian rice pudding (Kheer), many chefs in the north, will saute the rice in ghee with some whole cardamom seeds, raisins and nuts. The rice is sauteed for barely a minute or two and then added into the cooking milk.

Most chefs today omit the sauteeing of spices and rice. Some only saute the nuts and raisins (me).

Also, the key to a good (rarely found in Indian homes today, for it takes MUCH longer to cook) rice pudding (kheer) is very little rice and hours and hours of reducing of milk.

Most chefs (restaurant and home) simply add way too much rice (as is the custom in the Western rice pudding) and this becomes the starch that thickens the pudding instead of simply being texture in a very rich and creamy pudding. I am not much of a fan of starch. And thus not a fan of rice pudding that is starchy rather than really creamy.

skchai, in fact I ought to than you for your post. It was thought provoking and wonderful. Made my day to see someone perhaps outside of India preparing Mysore Pak. Would it be wrong to inquire about where you live (country or city)? I was curious all day yesterday. Looking forward to reading more from you.

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Neither am I - nothing is more off-putting in a sweet than consuming raw flour! The question I had about Yamuna Devi's recipe is that she roasts the besan without ghee, cooking the ghee separately with the syrup. Neither am I - nothing is more off-putting in a sweet than consuming raw flour! The question I had ut Yamuna Devi's recipe is that she roasts the besan without ghee, cooking the ghee separately with the syrup.

I agree raw flour s off-putting, and Indians also find it bad for digestion. What can I say, Jiggs Kalra is not alone in worrying about what could happen to ones stomach. Indian food really does care about all of these subtleties and Indians for the most part, at least in India, are not embarassed to hear about these details. Jiggs Kalra is hugely popular and well respected in India.

I roast flours without any fat as well. Would I do it for desserts that I make, no, but could it be all that uncommon, I think not. Have you tried her recipe? How did it come out?

Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to try either. But your comment piqued by curiousity and I did a web search. This recipe on Bawarchi.com (part of Sify) seems to have a very similar ingredient list as Mysore Pak, but as you mentioned the proportion of flour is larger. Also, the syrup is added to the flour mixture rather than the other way around, and the final product is rolled out in bar cookie fashion. (Mysore Pak would be too crumbly to roll?)

I would think what you suggest makes sense. I have never made Mysorke Pak, only watched my mother prepare it decades ago. And I have never, ever made or seen anyone make Patisa.:sad: Friends of mine in India could tell you stories about my love for Patissa. I could well be one of the foremost experts on the taste of patissa. But sadly, I have never let myself get away from a platter full of them to even make an effort to go see how the chef prepares it. I spend all my time enjoying it. :rolleyes:

I agree with you completely. I've probably spent as much time simply leafing through that book as I have any cookbook I own. Yet the recipes can sometimes be slightly cryptic to the outsider. It seems the book was first published in India, then republished (with the beautiful photographs added) in Australia.

Same as what I have understood. In fact someone told me once that she lives in Australia or New Zealand. Is that true? I do love the pictures and recipes she chronicles.

Thanks for that insight and recollection. I never realized that Besan Ladoo could be made in such a way! All my experience has been with store-bought product which was too sweet and hardly roasted at all. Hence my impression that it was less roasted than Mysore Pak. I guess in either case it's just a matter of who makes it. Sondhi Khusboo - I feel like I've learned something very profound!

You are very kind. Besan ke Ladoos are amazing. Friends who have a very vocal dislike for Indian desserts bought at stores, have visited India and fallen in love with Besan Ladoos. They are nutty, with an addictive roasted taste and a creamy and at once gritty texture that is really wonderful on the tongue and exciting to the palate. I add saffron and cardamom into mine. I can never make enough of them. They get eaten within an hour at the most. And they are RICH. But that hardly stops people (Indian or otherwise) from knoshhing on them as if they were never going to get them again. The smell of the Besan as it roasts is heavenly and scintilating.

Ahh . . . as in Pakistan!

Yes Pakistan means land of the pure. I think I am right.. It could also mean the pure land. Now I am all confused. But Pak is pure in Urdu and Stan is place.

Given how prolific she is and how many books she has sold in India, it is notable how little her reputation has not carried over to the U.S., even among fans of Indian food. Perhaps one reason is that she writes Miss Beeton-style collections of recipes for the harried housewife rather than Madhur Jaffrey-style ethnographies that might appeal to inquisitive foreigners. Her recipes do not

Another major Indian foodie whose profile in the U.S. is notably modest is Jiggs Kalra. But this seems to be for very different reasons - he assumes a very knowledgable audience, and though he is a good English stylist, his form of writing might be jarring to foreigners - how, for instance, do you translate into American, "Resist (the Jingha Achaar) or the stomach will go for for a six"?

Tarla Dala has a huge following and has spent a lifetime sharing her food knowledge with millions of Indians. Her books certainly have had a much larger following than most any celebrity cookbook author we could think of in the US. The sheer numbers of Indians buying her books and the many re-prints of her work could give us numbers that would make any publisher proud and hungry. Her recipes have not only inspired the harried housewife, but also been the backbone of many fancy hosts.:shock: People rely on her for everything food related. Indian, Chinese, Italian, Thai, Mexican et al... Madhur Jaffrey is better known here and certainly in UK. But again, the sheer mass of population (from all strata of Indian life) that follow Tarla Dalal as gospel truth is HUGE, anyone who could have a fraction of that following would feel blessed. I actually feel sad that I lack what many have, that enables them to grasp her wisdom in the kicthen. And as a grown man, I find even the cookie recipes I enjoyed and loved as a child, falling far short of what I want my cookies to be like today. :sad: Not sure if it is Tarla Dalal I should blame or myself. I think I need to blame me and my life and its experiences. I have changed, she has not.

And really, Tarla Dalal is a Huge celebrity in India, the likes of which Madhur Jaffrey or Julie Sahni could never be. She was smart maybe to realize early on that India with the population of a teeming billion plus, presented an audience far greater than what could come to any author even with popularity in several continents. Smart cookie she was.. and as the pioneer author, she has maintained a fondness in the hearts of our countries populace. Think hundreds of millions buying cookbooks, and then think how deeply rooted Tarla Dalal is in the culinary life of India. It is an amazing story. I am told by friends that know her that she is very modest and humble. Her success and her books having made it into millions of kitchens has not changed her person. One does not hear such stories often.

  Prasad, thanks for your insights:
Besan (lentil flour) is used in several kabab coatings and even there it is roasted before it is added to meat or fish.

That's quite interesting! There is no precedent I know of for roasting flour (of any kind) in the West prior to coating meats for cooking. Roasted flour or roux is confined to gravies. West African grilled meats are sometimes covered in the coating of chopped roasted peanuts, but that's not quite the same thing!

At Diwan in NYC, chef Hemant Mathur uses roasted chickpea flour in several grilled poultry and meat dishes coming from his tandoor. In fact, his famous Tandoori Prawns have some roasted besan in them as well.:shock: In India we make a dish called Karhi Pakori, that has a sauce that is made with chickpea flour and yogurt. It also had pakoras (chickpea flour fritters) added into the sauce towards the end of cooking. A staple in many Northern homes and is enjoyed with rice. In some parts of India, besan is added into vegetable stir fries.

And yes, thanks to Prasad2 for sharing generously with all of us on eGullet.:smile:

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I will take a ver very very WILD guess how the name Mysore Pak came.

Pakam: (A South Indian Word) This word is typically used in making sweets. A hot boiling sugar syrup when ready to be finished for any dessert which uses this sugar syrup is called Pakam. Mom usually checks the string on this pakam (sugar syrup) and quotes "Pakam is ready"

Mysore: A small town in Southern India.

Putting these together, given the benefit that this dessert comes from South India, it is named "Mysore Pak"

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I will take a ver very very WILD guess how the name Mysore Pak came.

Pakam: (A South Indian Word) This word is typically used in making sweets. A hot boiling sugar syrup when ready to be finished for any dessert which uses this sugar syrup is called Pakam. Mom usually checks the string on this pakam (sugar syrup) and quotes "Pakam is ready"

Mysore: A small town in Southern India.

Putting these together, given the benefit that this dessert comes from South India, it is named "Mysore Pak"

Bingo! :biggrin:

Thanks Prasad! :smile:

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In Indian rice pudding (Kheer), many chefs in the north, will saute the rice in ghee with some whole cardamom seeds, raisins and nuts. The rice is sauteed for barely a minute or two and then added into the cooking milk.

Most chefs today omit the sauteeing of spices and rice. Some only saute the nuts and raisins (me).

Also, the key to a good (rarely found in Indian homes today, for it takes MUCH longer to cook) rice pudding (kheer) is very little rice and hours and hours of reducing of milk.

Most chefs (restaurant and home) simply add way too much rice (as is the custom in the Western rice pudding) and this becomes the starch that thickens the pudding instead of simply being texture in a very rich and creamy pudding. I am not much of a fan of starch. And thus not a fan of rice pudding that is starchy rather than really creamy.

Wow, thanks again! I'm learned so much you and others on this forum in the past couple weeks that I could have never picked up reading cookbooks. I never realized that kheer was sometimes made with sauteed rice. Moreover, I always assumed that rice was the primary thickening agent, not the reduction of the milk. No wonder the kheer I've made has always turned out so stodgy!

skchai, in fact I ought to than you for your post. It was thought provoking and wonderful. Made my day to see someone perhaps outside of India preparing Mysore Pak. Would it be wrong to inquire about where you live (country or city)? I was curious all day yesterday. Looking forward to reading more from you.

Suvir, you are really one for making us novices feel important! It wouldn't be wrong to ask at all to ask where I live - I'm in Honolulu, Hawaii - I think I wrote a post earlier about how difficult it is to get Indian ingredients here, though just about everything else is available.

Jiggs Kalra is hugely popular and well respected in India.

He seems to be among the most prominent of those who are seeking to make Indian restaurant food into something that can be marketed as creative cuisine to the international community. Which makes it all the more suprising that he hasn't had more exposure in the West - why for instance did his wonderful Prasad never find a British or American publisher? On the other hand, he seems to be quite popular in Singapore - I've enjoyed his columns at Asiacuisine.com's CW Magazine quite a lot.

I roast flours without any fat as well. Would I do it for desserts that I make, no, but could it be all that uncommon, I think not. Have you tried her recipe? How did it come out?

I've never tried it - cooking the besan in ghee somehow sounded more appealing to me. However, I'm not saying that cooking it alone couldn't properly brown the flour, just that it seemed more likely to brown unevenly or burn.

Same as what I have understood. In fact someone told me once that she lives in Australia or New Zealand. Is that true? I do love the pictures and recipes she chronicles.

I don't know. I searched for the string "Chandra Padmanabhan" on the web, but nearly every single hit I got was for the Dakshin cookbook rather than for her personally. However, I did find an article in The Hindu dated July 2001 that mentioned that she was still associated with Madras Musings and also the co-publisher of the Indian Review of Books (!). This seems to indicate that, at least at the time, she still lived in Madras/Chennai. Perhaps your friend was thinking about Carol Selva Rajah, an Malaysian/Australian NRI who was a consultant for the Australian edition of the book and is a well-known cookbook writer in her own right.

You are very kind. Besan ke Ladoos are amazing. Friends who have a very vocal dislike for Indian desserts bought at stores, have visited India and fallen in love with Besan Ladoos. They are nutty, with an addictive roasted taste and a creamy and at once gritty texture that is really wonderful on the tongue and exciting to the palate. I add saffron and cardamom into mine. I can never make enough of them. They get eaten within an hour at the most. And they are RICH. But that hardly stops people (Indian or otherwise) from knoshhing on them as if they were never going to get them again. The smell of the Besan as it roasts is heavenly and scintilating.

Sounds wonderful! I am tasting them right now in my mind. . .

On a different note, perhaps as my next dubious experiment I will try roasting another type of bean flour to see if the aroma and taste are anywhere near as enticing - perhaps mung bean flour as a first shot, since mung beans are already used in a number of sweets in Southeast Asian cookery.

Tarla Dala has a huge following and has spent a lifetime sharing her food knowledge with millions of Indians. Her books certainly have had a much larger following than most any celebrity cookbook author we could think of in the US. The sheer numbers of Indians buying her books and the many re-prints of her work could give us numbers that would make any publisher proud and hungry. Her recipes have not only inspired the harried housewife, but also been the backbone of many fancy hosts. People rely on her for everything food related. Indian, Chinese, Italian, Thai, Mexican et al... Madhur Jaffrey is better known here and certainly in UK. But again, the sheer mass of population (from all strata of Indian life) that follow Tarla Dalal as gospel truth is HUGE, anyone who could have a fraction of that following would feel blessed. I actually feel sad that I lack what many have, that enables them to grasp her wisdom in the kicthen. And as a grown man, I find even the cookie recipes I enjoyed and loved as a child, falling far short of what I want my cookies to be like today.  Not sure if it is Tarla Dalal I should blame or myself. I think I need to blame me and my life and its experiences. I have changed, she has not.

And really, Tarla Dalal is a Huge celebrity in India, the likes of which Madhur Jaffrey or Julie Sahni could never be. She was smart maybe to realize early on that India with the population of a teeming billion plus, presented an audience far greater than what could come to any author even with popularity in several continents. Smart cookie she was.. and as the pioneer author, she has maintained a fondness in the hearts of our countries populace. Think hundreds of millions buying cookbooks, and then think how deeply rooted Tarla Dalal is in the culinary life of India. It is an amazing story. I am told by friends that know her that she is very modest and humble. Her success and her books having made it into millions of kitchens has not changed her person. One does not hear such stories often.

I didn't realize she was quite that influential! One interesting thing about her books is that dishes from all states are presented together, implicitly advocating for a pan-regional and truly national Indian cuisine. I wonder about the extent to which she was a pioneer in this regard or she simply followed a trend that was already occuring. This also gets me to wondering about the extent to which, for the growing urban middle class, restricted eating patterns based on region, caste, and religion are truly being erased. Cookbooks like Tarla Dalal's and the rise of udipi cafes throughout the country might seem to suggest that this is so. However, the continued popularity of having tiffin delivered from one's home to one's office seems to indicate that the middle class still remains suspicious of the food of the "other".

I will take a ver very very WILD guess how the name Mysore Pak came.

Pakam: (A South Indian Word) This word is typically used in making sweets. A hot boiling sugar syrup when ready to be finished for any dessert which uses this sugar syrup is called Pakam. Mom usually checks the string on this pakam (sugar syrup) and quotes "Pakam is ready"

Mysore: A small town in Southern India.

Putting these together, given the benefit that this dessert comes from South India, it is named "Mysore Pak"

Bingo!

Thanks Prasad!

My thanks as well!

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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