Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mysore Pak

I'm sure if you've come here, it is in search of the perfect Mysore Pak Recipe. I myself had been hunting for it for a while, and it took me as much as 6 attempts to finally get one that I liked eating. The recipe mentioned here will result in a firm Mysore Pak, that is crumbly enough to melt in your mouth, and whose cross-section shows 3 distinct layers, with the 2 outer layers being golden-yellow, and the middle one being light-brown. There are many parameters that affect the way the Mysore Pak will turn up. Mysore Pak is made using Gram Flour(besan), sugar syrup, and ghee(clarified butter). Varying the proportions of these ingredients will affect the "quality"(by quality I mean taste and texture) of the produced result. Let's discuss them in detail.

  1. Amount of Gram flour: We shall assume this to be kept constant and all other ingredients are chosen relative to this one ingredient.

  2. Amount of Sugar: This is typically taken to be anywhere between 1 to 2 times the amount of Besan used. More sugar will result in a softer final product. I personally take sugar to be about 1.4 times the amount of Besan used.

  3. Amount of Ghee: This mainly dictates the fattiness of the sweet. The more ghee you have, the smoother the texture, the more well cooked it will be and the more fatty your final produce will be. The ratio varies anywhere between 1 to 3 times the amount of Besan used. I personally try to restrict it to about 1.5 times the amount of Besan. However, I generally let the recipe dictate how much ghee to add. More on this below. You will also need(extra) 1 Tbsp Ghee per cup of Besan.

  4. Amount of Water in the sugar: Water should be about 1/4th of the amount of sugar used, or just enough to wet the sugar so that it can be heated uniformly.

So, my ratio would look something like this:


You may optionally add about 1/2 Tbsp of ground cardamom powder per cup of Besan to the mysore pak for that extra flavour and aroma.

You will need 2 medium sized pans, one large pan for cooking, one large steel plate and one sieve for sieving.

  1. Take the Ghee and heat it on a low flame till it is really hot.

  2. Drop about 1 tbsp of this hot Ghee on the besan and mix it well. Roast the Besan and Ghee mixture on a low flame till it starts giving off an aroma.

  3. Now sieve this mixture so that there are no or very few lumps.

  4. Take the sugar and the water mixture and heat it on a medium-low flame till it forms a single thread consistency. This can be checked by periodically taking this(very hot) sugar syrup) and pressing it between your index finger and thumb, and trying to separate them slowly. If the syrup at room-temperature(or slightly warmer) forms one single thread, then it is the right consistency. The sugar syrup will be bubbling. It is these air bubbles that the besan will trap and help create the holes in the final product. More viscous mixtures will result in a more crumbly Mysore Pak, and less viscous mixtures won't form as good a texture.

  5. Now add the sieved Besan to the sugar syrup, and stir till it is completely mixed and there are no lumps. This shouldn't take too long. Less than a minute.

  6. Add the cardamom to the mixture now if you are using it, because you won't have time later!!!!

  7. Now, add the very hot Ghee, about 1-2 tbsp at a time to the Besan and sugar mixture, and keep stirring. As the hot ghee falls on this mixture, it cooks the besan because of it's very high temperature, and will form a frothy mass. This is normal.

  8. Keep stirring continuously, and adding ghee every 20 sec, till the mixture lets go of the pan, and stops absorbing more ghee. This is generally when I stop adding ghee. (I start off with a little more ghee than I think I would need, and save the rest for later.)

  9. Do NOT let your concentration waver, since this is a very critical period in the preparation of Mysore Pak. Any lapse of concentration now will spell certain doom.

  10. You need to keep stirring till you see a distinct change in texture and colour of the Besan. The Besan will darken slightly(it will just start changing colour) and will form a thready molten-rock like mass. When this happens, quickly remove the Mysore Pak, and place it into a tray to cool. If you remove the Mysore Pak from the heat too early, then it won't solidify and will form a burfi, and if you heat it for too long, it will over-cook, and lose it's texture and will fail to solidify into a sturdy mass. Instead it will become a gooey mass, which will not solidify.

  11. (coming back)It will solidify in a few seconds, but will internally continue cooking for about 10 min, or until cooled sufficiently. You will know it is done if you don't hear a spurting/bubbling sound when you put your ear over the Mysore Pak. When you remove the Mysore Pak to cool, it is actually cooking inside because of all the heat trapped in the ghee. It is because of this latent cooking that the Mysore Pak is able to get a light brown center.

  12. Cut it into pieces and enjoy :-)

I hope you enjoy making this mouth-watering sweet, and I hope it turns out well. Mysore Pak is a very delicate dish to prepare, and requires precise timing of operations. Remember to not lose your concentration, and always start off with a patient mind :-)

In case you are wondering how I know what happens when you over/under-do something -- well, I've tried it out!!!! And wasted so much of my ingredients doing so.... In case your Mysore Pak has formed a burfi(won't solidity but has a smooth texture), all is not lost. You can still re-heat it (on a medium-low) flame, and keep stirring till you see forthing, and a molten-rock like texture of the mass. Turn off the heat, and let it solidify.

  1. The ghee has a higher boiling point than water, and hence is hotter than the sugar mixture(which at single-thread consistency is about 105C). Hence, it is able to cook the Besan better than the sugar mixture. If you use cool/room temperature ghee, you will have to wait for the mixture to become hot, and all the heat will be absorbed by the ghee instead of the Besan, and the Besan will be left under-cooked.

  2. Some people suggest using a 50% - 50% mixture of Vegetable Oil and Ghee instead of pure Ghee. DO NOT do that under any circumstances. I tried it, and it leaves quite a horrible after-taste of oil in your mouth. To bring out the real taste of Mysore Pak, use ONLY 100% Pune Cow's Ghee. Cow's Ghee is slightly yellow in colour, and I've had success with a brand called Dynamix. or make your own [1] [2] from Pure Butter.

  3. If you skip the roasting step, the Besan may not give off the proper taste.

  4. If the Ghee is not piping hot, the Besan will not get froth every time you pour the Ghee over it. This is Okay. However, it will take a while too cook the Mysore Pak, and you need to know how much Ghee to add in advance. The recipe will no longer dictate the amount of Ghee to be used. You will need to patiently cook the mixture on a medium flame. DO NOT use a high flame or you will burn the Mysore Pak, since Besan cooks very easily.

  5. Try to use a thick(18 gauge) stainless steel vessel in which to cook the Mysore Pak, since it will ensure equitable heat distribution and will not react with the mixture's contents. Using a larger pan(kadhai) will help, since it will help air the mixture.