Mysore pak is a sweet prepared with gram flour, sugar and ghee. Photo: Bhavna Kalra
As a foodie, I love anything associated with food and everything that defines what we eat. So when we talk about the Gods we worship, 'Ganesha', the lover of food has to be my favourite. Considering my life revolves around eating, cooking and dreaming of what to eat next, he is clearly the right God to have by my side at all times.
As a child of not-so religious parents, we did not celebrate any festivals. However, Ganesh Chaturthi had a very special place in my life because our entire neighbourhood celebrated it with a lot of glee. Everyone from kids to grown-ups pitched in to make the festival a memorable one. From collecting donations to buying the the idol to getting all the aunties to prepare mouth-watering delicacies to tempt Ganesha, we did it all.
Considering that this was the only time our parents allowed us to stay out after dinner, we, of course, waited with bated breath for this time of the year. Since our neighbourhood consisted of families from all over the country, everyone had their way of worshiping him, which resulted in festivities that were very non-traditional. The daily aarti would be sung in five different languages on top of our voices, and then he would also be treated with sweets like modaks, halwa and Mysore pak, which was my favourite. Prepared with gram flour, sugar, and an unmentionable amount of ghee, Mysore pak was a melt-in-the-mouth goodness that excited even mere mortals like me.
Standing outside the kitchen where the pak would be made, we would watch the ladies mix the gram flour with the sugar syrup till the whole thing came together after rigorous stirring. We knew the halwa was ready when there was an unmistakable aroma of gram flour being cooked with ghee.
The wet sticky mixture would then be left to be set till it became a fudge (pak), which would then be offered to Lord Ganesh during the evening puja. Considering how delicious the pak was, I don’t think he could resist eating it. While I may not know any traditions to invoke his blessings, I do know that the way to his heart is through his round tummy, and Mysore pak is the treat that I make every time he visits us. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all!
Recipe for Mysore Pak
Cooking time: 30 mins
2 ½ cups gram flour/chickpea flour/besan
½ cup almond meal (if you don’t have almond meal just use ½ cup gram flour only)
2 ½ cups sugar (I used raw sugar, and I only used 2 cups as I don’t like the pak to be too sweet)
1 cup ghee
1/2 vegetable oil + 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup water
1. Grease a plate or a pan with some ghee and keep it aside.
2. Mix 1 tbsp vegetable oil with gram flour and to get a crumbly mixture. Ensure that there are no lumps.
3. Heat the ghee and oil together on a medium flame and keep aside.
4. In a thick-bottomed pan (do not use non-stick utensils) mix the water and sugar together and cook on a medium flame till the sugar dissolves to a one-string consistency.
5. Now add the gram flour in the sugar mixture slowly, stirring as you go. This is a little task as you have to maintain a steady hand and ensure that there are no lumps.
6. Once all the gram flour is mixed start adding the oil and ghee mixture till everything is mixed, and in the end the ghee begins to leave the side of the pan. The mixture at this stage will start to solidify, so you have to work quickly.
7. Pour the mixture into the greased plate and spread it evenly using a spatula. Let it set till lukewarm before you cut into equal slices and let it cool completely.
8. Store in an airtight container till you work your way through eating all of it.