Was Shrikhand Originally Created By Mahabharata's Bhima?

Shrikhand, also known as Matho, is a dessert that is made with sweetened hung curd, flavoured with cardamom, saffron, and a host of chunky nuts. The dessert’s popularity has transcended geographical boundaries. Beyond Gujarat and Maharashtra, where it is a mainstay at ceremonial occasions, Shrikhand has now become commonplace in sweet shops of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh as well.  

The Mythological Connect

Across History, dairy has dominated the quintessential Indian fare. The innumerable ways in which we use milk and milk byproducts to date are proof. It comes as little surprise then that Shrikhand has held its own in all these years, despite being so simple in nature. Many say that the dessert was first created by Bhima, one of the five Pandavas in the Mahabharata. Known to have the might of 100 elephants, Bhima was assigned the role of a cook in King Virata’s kingdom when he had to go incognito for a year. It is also said that Avial, a south Indian mix-veg delicacy, was first created by Bhima, as far and Shrikhand is concerned, people believe that Bhima named his dessert Shikharini after Shree Krishna, and it was this Shikharini that later evolved into Srikhand.

Another popular legend also states that Shrikhand was actually developed by herders who would have a hard time carrying yogurt, so they strained out the whey, and consumed the strained curd mixed with sugar and nuts the morning after.

A Dessert More Than 2500 Yers Old?

Besides these mythological and popular legends, Shrikhand also finds a firm place in several ancient texts, which affirms our belief that Shrikhand has indeed come a long way. Food Historian K.T, Achaya writes in his Indian Food: A Historical Companion that it was a common practice to dewater curd in muslin for a few hours around 500 BC, “sugar and spices added to the mass yielded shikharini (identical with modern-day shrikhand)”. Even in the 11th-century book on Agriculture, Kannada poet Chavundaraya II writes about Shikharini and how it was a common sight to watch muslin cloth hanging with curd inside. The cookbook Soopa Shastra published in the year 1508, also has a recipe of Shrikhand.

Shrikhand today has many variations, you may have heard about the Mango Shrikhand that is also known as Aamkhand, a summer staple in Gujarati and Maharashtrian households. But one of the edgiest spins given to Shrikhand would have to be this Gelato Shrikhand captured by food blogger Amar Sirohi on his YouTube channel Foodie Incarnate. That’s right, this Gujarat-based eatery churns Shrikhand in a Gelato machine to whip a creamy and colourful dessert. Have a look.  

Would you have this ‘modern’ Shrikhand that is doing the rounds of social media, or would you rather stick to classic. If it is the latter you fancy, then here is a recipe that will surely thrill you.