The lovely city of Mysore is located in Karnataka state in South India. Mysore is very well known for its delicious cuisine with such famous dishes as Mysore Masala Dosa (a lentil crepe stuffed with spicy potatoes & served with a red garlic chutney), Mysore Bonda (mixed dal fritter) & my personal favorite – Mysore Pak.
Now simply calling Mysore Pak - “chickpea flour fudge” - somehow just doesn’t give this rich & heavenly sweet the proper justice it so rightly deserves. If ever a dessert could be described as “melt in your mouth” delicious, then Mysore Pak would surely be the hands down winner. The ingredient list is short & sweet, just a handful of items beautifully combined to create one of the best tasting things you have ever had in your life -- my Mysore Pak is all that & then some.
Now the key to this recipe actually lies in the technique, proper Mysore Pak contains “holes” or air pockets in a porous pattern which are caused by aeration – this in turn adds a lovely lightness & texture to the final product. This dish is best made with an extra pair of hands, so invite a friend & share the yummy results ☺.
MYSORE PAK (Chickpea Flour Fudge)
1 cup besan (chickpea flour), sifted twice
1½ cups melted ghee, kept warm (no substitutes)
1½ cups sugar
¾ cup water
pinch of ground cardamom powder
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
ghee as needed (for frying the nuts & besan)
½ cup of toasted cashew pieces (or almond slices) for garnish
First, lightly grease a thali (Indian rimmed metal platter) or a medium-size baking dish on all sides with a little ghee. Set aside until needed.
In a large deep skillet on medium low heat, lightly sauté the cashew pieces in a little ghee until lightly browned. Remove, drain well & set aside until needed.
Now to the same skillet on medium low heat, add 2 tbsp of ghee. Then slowly add the besan & let it cook, while stirring continuously for a few minutes until the besan is fragrant & aromatic. Then remove the lightly toasted besan from the pan & set aside until needed. By lightly toasting the besan first, this will remove any raw taste from the besan & allow for a greater depth of flavor.
In a large heavy bottom pan on medium low heat, combine the sugar and water to create a sugar syrup (“pak”) of one string consistency. Carefully test the syrup between your thumb & index finger, when you pull your fingers apart, there should be one unbreakable string ☺.
Now reduce the heat to low & slowly add the roasted besan while lightly whisking to combine. Next, add the cardamom powder & nutmeg. Keep whisking lightly to aerate the mixture for about 10-12 minutes (an extra pair of hands really helps here). In between, keep adding small amounts of the ghee until the full 1½ cups have been added. The besan mixture should be bubbly & frothy, once it starts to come away from the sides of the pan – it is ready.
Then carefully pour the mixture into the thali or baking dish making sure it is evenly spread. Garnish with the nuts and allow to set. When cooled & slightly set, cut into pretty squares or diamond shapes. Serve as a delicious dessert to compliment any Indian meal.