How the Royal Mysore Pak Was Invented
The story goes back to around the year of 1935.
It was another day at the Mysore Palace and the reigning King, Krishnaraja Wodeyar, was ready to have his lunch. His chief chef Kakaasura Madappa completed the preparation of all the courses for the royal meal. But on the thali that would be presented to the king, one spot was vacant – for a sweet dish. With space left for one more sweet dish, Madappa began experimenting. He added gram flour (besan), ghee and sugar to make a syrup.
By the time the King finished his lunch, the dish had cooled down to become a cake. The chef then served it hesitantly to the King. A delighted Krishnaraja Wodeyar demanded a second helping and asked what it was. Madappa, nervously named it ‘Mysore Paka’. Paka in Sanskrit or in Kannada means sweet concoction.
The sweet soon came out of the Royal Palace and spread rapidly. Royals, noblemen and commoners alike soon started preparing Mysore Paka and the name struck.
Meanwhile, Kakasura refined the sweet and the Mysore Pak that came out of his hands included chick pea flour, ghee (clarified butter). It soon became a famous royal sweet and the name Mysore Pak spread beyond the boundaries of Mysore.
The king then asked Kakasura to set up a shop outside the Amba Vilas Palace grounds so that his subjects too could taste the Pak.
Thus was born Guru Sweets on Sayaji Rao Road in Mysore in 1957. The royal cook-Kakasura-passed away in 1964, aged 70 and by then Mysore Pak had become one of the main sweets in the Indian palate. His son, Basavanna, continued the family tradition. His descendents still operate the shop and the Mysore Pak of this shop has a unique and distinct taste.
Today, there are several varieties of Mysore Pak, each with its distinct flavour and taste. The Pak has also transcended the borders of Karnataka and it is very commonly available all over India. But a majority of the buyers of Mysore Pak are not aware that it originated in the Royal kitchens of Mysoreand that it was prepared by accident.
There are at least three other dishes which trace their origin to Mysore-the Mysore Masala Dosa, Bisi Bele Bath and the Mysore Saaru (rasam). All the three from Mysore taste differently from their competitors.
It was soon officially designated the royal sweet and is even today considered the ‘king’ of sweets in the South. Women in Mysore say that during the 10 days of Dasara festivities, they are meant to prepare at least 51 traditional items. And a platter of food and sweets without a bit of Mysore Pak in it, they say is incomplete.