|Finishing the Mysurpa. Slice by slice|
Update: According to a comment from Sri Krishna Sweets on my Instagram (@TheFinelyChopped) feed, they call it Mysurpa as it 'melts in your mouth before you reach the K'
I met an old flame from Chennai after ages recently.
I am talking of the 'Mysore Pak' (there is a reason for the italics) from Sri Krishna Sweets. I first fell in love with it when I tasted this South Indian dessert in the late 1990s when someone at work got it from Chennai for us. I took a bite of it and feel in love with its gooey sweetness. While most people at work took a portion each, I kept going back to the box again and again through the day. I was young and thin then. I worked in a qualitative market research office. People would often travel on fieldwork. They would then get food items back from wherever they would go. Mishti from Kolkata, laddoo or barfi from Delhi, but what was introduced to me as 'Mysore Pak' was my favourite of all.
A few years later, I was back in the same market research company. This time as a quantitative researcher. Now I had to make frequent trips to Chennai myself as I had a client based there.
One day, while returning to Mumbai from Chennai, I saw a Sri Krishna Sweets counter at what was a very seedy Chennai airport then (mid 2000s). I went there and asked for a portion of Mysore Pak and the folks at the counter obliged with a smile.
I came home and took some of the sweet dish for my late grand mother in law during our weekend visits to see her at Amboli. She had just one tooth remaining by then and lived on soft food and still had a massive metaphoric sweet tooth.
This Parsi lady from Surat, who loved cooking and feeding me even when ill health beat her down, fell in love with the soft, ghee soaked goodness of the Mysore Pak. So each time I went to Chennai, I would stop on my way back at the airport Sri Krishna outlet and pick 100 g for myself (the Sri Krishna guys would pack even a small portion with a smile) and 250 g for mamma (granny).
A few years later, Mamma left us for the hapoos fields in the sky. She loved Alphonso mangoes after all and could have them through the day. I have inherited her love for cheese and hapoos it seems.
Soon my trips to Chennai stopped after I switched companies. Then a Sri Krishna outlet opened in Chennai in Mumbai and a kind colleague once got me some Mysore Pak as he knew of my love for it. People tell me that the Chembur outlet is shut now. There are apparently some outlets in Vashi in New Bombay and people deliver it online too. The Chennai airport is spruced up now and I didn't see any Sri Krishna counters. Anyone knows if they are still there?
I stopped seeking out the Sri Krishna Mysore Pak as my waist was not as trim as it once was and further fattening it with the gooey, sugary, ghee doused goodness of this South Indian dessert didn't seem to be a good idea.
I finally made it back to Chennai after possibly a decade recently. During my trip I met, Amit Patnaik, a Chennai based food blogger (here's his blog) who gave me a lot of tips on where to eat in Chennai and who took me to the Marina Beach and introduced me to the wonders of the beach shacks there which sell freshly fried seafood.
|Amit Patnaik with his favourite jiggarthanda|
from Murugan's Idli
While bidding me farewell later at night, Amit very kindly gave me a bag of goodies from Sri Krishna Sweets which had murukku (savoury snacks) sweets AND the Mysore Pak.
I thought I would give the Mysore pak to my wife's mama, who used to love the Mysore pak when I would get some for mamma (his mom whom he looked after), rather than load my belly with the fatty stuff.
Then I cut a small slice of the Mysore Pak the night I returned while watching DVDs of Frasier.
Old memories rushed back and I decided to cut myself another slice the next afternoon. The Mysore Pak had become a bit hard in the fridge but the taste of ghee was still bewitching.
So that night, I cut another piece and kept it out for about 10 minutes before eating it. It softened in the heat and tasted in even nicer.
Next day I cut a slice for lunch and kept it out and ate it. As I did for dinner. And so the story continued.
Then I put up a picture of the Mysore Pak on Instagram. On seeing the picture, food bloggers and writer Priya Pathiyan and Nandita Iyer and a few others strongly recommended that I heat the Mysore Pak for 30 seconds in the microwave and then eat it.
There was a piece of Amit's Mysore Pak left (sorry Mama) so I put it on a plate and in the micro for 30 seconds. I took it out of the micro and saw that the piece of Mysore Pak had settled down on the plate like a baby elephant taking a nap and was surrounded by a puddle of ghee.
I took a bite. At the risk of a TWHS (That's What He Said) jibe, it was a very very private pleasure.
|After 30 seconds in the microwave|
Mama obviously didn't get any (of the Mysore Pak).
Now to the reason behind the quotes around 'Mysore Pak".
When I shared the picture of the Mysore Pak on social media, my classmate from college, Jonaki, said that apart from the Sri Krishan MP, she has had the drier and less ghee soaked 'original' Mysore Pak from Bangalore and liked it too. When I asked what 'original' meant, a food loving doctor friend of mine, Pradeep Rao, told me that he had first come across the ghee soaked ones in the 1980s in Mangalore and thinks that Sri Krishna Sweets were the first to introduce it. These were different from the drier Mysore Paks you would get till then Pradeep told me. I have come across the drier version in the South Indian sweet shops near Matunga in Mumbai and didn't like them much and Pradeep, a Mangalorean, agreed that the Mumbai versions are not that nice as what you get down South. Then another friend, Keerat Grewal, told me that she had recently picked up some Mysore Pak from Sri Krishna in Chennai and saw that they had written 'Mysurpa' and not Mysore Pak on the packs. Some folks told me that in Chennai, Grand Sweets is the place to go to but hey there will always be someone to tell you that there is a place better than the one you went to and felt good about.
I will try to check out Grand Sweets and the drier Mysore Paks when I go back some day but the soft and cuddly Sri Krishna Mysurpa will always be special to me.
Note: You heard my Mysore Pak story. To know more about the story of Mysore Pak check out this article by Ashwin Rajagopalan which some people on Twitter shared with me