The story of Mysore Pak is close to my heart, one full of love and equal amounts of good cholesterol.
Mysore Pak is quite simply my favourite sweet. There is nothing which comes close to it. Well Jalebi sometimes does, but it still remains a distant second. Bengali sweets are further down the podium. And the western desserts? Well they don’t even clear the heats.
My story is one of discovery, friendship, taste, and limitless delight. I have limited knowledge about its origins and don’t wish to explore a lot. Also I don’t claim to know which form of it is the original, the melt-in-your-mouth Sri Krishna Sweets style or the porous, brittle, harder variety. All I can narrate is the story built of on true love for the sweet, or for the former version of it. The one which deliciously fades away in your mouth with the trueness of Ghee as a rich aftertaste.
My initial encounters with Mysore Pak were far from satisfactory. The sweet shop in my township served a dry, ribbed version, closer to the second variety I mentioned earlier. And then I remember this episode from Malgudi Days where the kid forces his miserly Grandpa to show him a movie, and buy him a Mysore Pak. Although there might have been instances of me tasting its greatness, but probably my taste buds were as immature as I was, still waiting to register its taste.
Things actually turned for the better once I reached Bangalore. Unlike many other things which I love, I can’t single out one instance when I was hit by this sweet lightening. It was a series of events, the boxes of Sri Krishna and Adayar Anand Bhavan (some of them brand it as MysorePa nowadays) arriving at my office with colleagues returning from their native places in Tamil Nadu; the 100 gms I will pick up for Rs. 23 post a idl-vada-dosa breakfast at AnnaKuteera, Banashankari (or any Darshini, or Sagar); the Rs. 50 pack picked up for the sugar-rush post a drinking session.
By the end of my first year in Bangalore, I had established this sweet as the best response for a sweet-craving amongst my friend circle(s). Any drinking session or get-together was meaningless without ending it with Mysore Pak. It made our evenings complete, in a way Curd Rice completes a South Indian meal. I remember an incident where I was walking the lanes of Kormangala with a friend in a drunk state, the drinking session halted by its absence. I also recall carrying a dabba through the city, to welcome a friend of mine who had arrived from Mumbai. I once had a box which was completely frozen in refrigerator so I melted it in a pan, extracted a bowl full of ghee from it, and used it to on khichdi. I enjoyed the moment when I had Milk Mysore Pak, or the brilliantly innovative Horlicks Mysore Pak. It was a fascination which kept growing on me, both the feeling, the stories and yes, the weight.
When I visited Bangalore after a long time, all my friends got together for a drinking session like the older times. There was Gobhi Manchurian, Biriyani, Boiled Eggs, and Medu Wadas. But the session was halted as one of my friends recalled, Pattu aaya hai, aur Mysore Pak nahi! Quite expectedly, my friends halted the session, rushed across the city to get the sweet, and raised a toast to our true love for it.
Even now friends coming from down South usually end up getting a box for me. I am lucky to have friends who appreciate and understand my crazy obsessions.
I love the feeling of Mysore Pak fading away in my mouth, a unique experience with hardly a comparable one to mention. The simplicity of the sweet is unquestionable. It is probably the easiest sweet to de-construct in mouth, equal proportions of Ghee, Sugar and Gram Flour breaking down to infuse such rich flavours I heard it was made for the Mysore Maharaja first, probably the creator took the simplest route to creating something so delightful, and pure.
Yes it is the purest form of love I have ever felt from food, and hence the term Pak-e-Mysore. It is interesting how Pak the Sugar Syrup in Hindi (or Kannada) changes to Pak the pure in Urdu.
We are always on the look out for love, pure and unconditional love, and I am lucky to have Mysore Pak in my life, for what will never change is my love for it.
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