Mysore Pak: The Indian Sweet With Taste And History Of Royalty
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The Indian city of Mysore (officially, Mysuru) in Karnataka is a must-visit spot. It is considered the state's cultural capital and offers an elegant glimpse into Indian history. It houses the famed Mysore Palace, home of the Mysore royal dynasty, along with other historical hotspots. It is also emerging as Bangalore's sister IT city. And it just lights up, quite literally, during the festival time of Dussehra, complete with the current king riding on the royal elephant. In essence, it is a city rich in history yet comfortable with modernity.

While the tourist hotspots delight the eye and refresh the mind, there is one other specialty of this place that delights the taste buds and refreshes the body and soul: Mysore Pak. This sweet, which is loaded with the goodness of ghee, has a following that goes beyond the native region. It lets the consumer experience a taste that reflects the richness and grandeur of the city it’s named after. Read on to learn how it manages to do it and the glorious history that led up to its existence.

The accidental invention at a royal feast

They say some of the greatest inventions are the result of accidents. Add Mysore Pak to that list, with an emphasis on "greatest." It happened in the year 1935, when the city was part of the Mysore kingdom ruled by Maharaja Krishnaja Wodeyar. On the occasion of a grand feast, the palace’s chief cook, Kaksura Madappa, struggled to create a special dessert to please the king. He improved it by adding gram flour, ghee, and sugar to a vessel and heating them till they became syrup. The king was served this concoction, which had cooled into a soft solid by the time he ate it.

This impromptu delicacy delighted the king to the extent that he called Madappa to inquire about it. When asked its name, Madappa improved again, calling it "Mysuru Paka," Paka being the Kannada word for sugar syrup. Thus was born the legendary Mysore Pak. It has since gone through many iterations, with new cooks creating varieties of it.

What makes it so addictive?

Mysore Pak is served during weddings and festivals, two of the most auspicious times in India. Only special sweets are permitted to occupy this position, further cementing the notion that it is their royal domain. There are a few reasons for this situation, besides it being born directly in the Mysore Palace’s kitchens.

One is the ease with which it can be prepared. The basic recipe only contains three main ingredients: sugar, gram flour, and ghee. Some turmeric and cardamom may be added for flavoring, but that isn’t mandatory. Thus, large quantities of it can be made to serve a large banquet of guests quickly. The lack of a list of ingredients means it also costs less than others to make.

The second is taste. Ghee is universally used in India, so everyone is familiar with its taste. Mysore Pak being filled with it appeals to a large section of the population, unlike some other sweets that people may be picky about. Anyone who stands close enough to a kitchen to make this sweet will know the irresistible pull of the smell of ghee that emanates when it’s being heated. Gram flour is used to make many other dishes, giving the sweet a commonplace identity while maintaining its regality.

Another factor contributing to its popularity is its ease of storage and maintenance. It's simple to make because it doesn't always have to be soaked in sugar syrup, like jamoons or rasgullas. It can be cut easily into whatever size pieces one wants and stored at room temperature, in contrast to others like rasmalai, which needs to be chilled to give it its iconic taste. This makes transportation easy too, helping it spread far and wide.

Where in Mysore can I find good Mysore Pak?

The popularity of this easy and sweet recipe has led to many sweet stalls offering this delicacy in Mysore and elsewhere. However, there is one place that is known for its authentic taste: Guru Sweet Mart. Located on Sayyaji Rao Road, it is the go-to place for Mysore Pak in the city because the owners of the store are the descendants of the man who created this delicacy, Madappa. It has a history of serving the finest Mysore Pak for over 85 years. It attracts over 1,000 people a day, with a significant portion of them being tourists, including international ones.

So, the next  time you’re in Mysore, give this kingly delicacy a try. You might just come away with great memories and a taste for one of the better things in life!