Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Diwali is the ‘King of Festivals’ in India. Interestingly among the Palakkad Iyers, it is purely a time for jubilation – there is no ‘neivedhyam’ on this occasion!

Of course the ladies of the household get busy a week in advance – planning and making preparations for the snacks to be prepared for Diwali. You’d be surprised (no?!) to hear that everything would be prepared at home – from scratch. There would be a sort of competition among relatives and friends as they’d vie with one another sharing the special items prepared. Why, to this day, I'm proud to proclaim that I make all my Diwali snacks at home – three sweets and three savories – yes!

On Diwali morning the members of the household wake up early, light the lamp, burst a few crackers, have oil bath and don new clothes. Then they enjoy the Diwali snacks. Then the lady would get busy making separate packets for distribution among family and friends as the rest of the family would gape at the alarming rate at which the items would disappear! This also gives the lady a chance to show off her new saree (Kanjeevaram or otherwise)!

‘Ukkaarai’ used to be a must on this day but it is on the wane now.
Breakfast is usually ‘idlis’ – with chutney, molagappodi or sambar as per the convenience!

A very popular South Indian sweet, Mysore Pak is a must at weddings and for Diwali and any special occasion. Those made by hoteliers and caterers drip in ghee and are delicious of course. But what my mom used to make was yummy as well, soft and melting-in-the-mouth. So here is our home-made yummy Mysore Pak with less ghee - for the calorie-conscious and others!

Ingredients -
Besan - 1 cup
Sugar - 2 1/4 cup
Pure ghee - 1 cup (melted)
Water - about 1/2 cup

Method -
Spread out the cup of besan and make sure it doesn't have any lumps.
Heat the ghee on a low flame till it is hot and set aside.
Take water in a thick-bottomed kadhai and add sugar and heat it.
Keep stirring till the sugar dissolves and boil for 1-2 minutes.
Add the besan and keep stirring well.
Lower the flame.
Add the hot ghee - a little each time and keep stirring till almost the entire ghee is used up.
Continue to stir till bubbles start appearing and add the remaining ghee. Keep stirring till the mixture leaves the sides.
Pour on to a greased plate.
After 3-4 minutes, make cuts in diamond shapes (right through the entire thickness) with a knife greased with ghee.
Cut along the same lines and remove the pieces only after 10 minutes.

Tips -
Use hot ghee for better results.
Make sure there is no disturbance especially when you are in the final stages. Better to try it when your hubby is away or baby is asleep or when you don't expect the door bell.
The critical point is tricky - mom used to make soft Mysore Pak which is my style. This will have the glaze - the finish point is when bubbles just start forming and the mixture leaves the sides.
If you want porous and slightly harder version, stir for a couple of minutes more till more bubbles are formed and the glaze disappears.
Don't worry, you'll arrive at the optimum point after a couple of trials but in all cases, the sweet will be delicious.
Draw the lines through and through only 3-4 minutes after pouring out the mixture. If it sticks to the knife, wait for a couple of minutes more.
Don't forget to remove them carefully - separating the pieces before they are completely cooled.

© Copyright 2011. Brinda Balasubramonian.

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