Am in the mood to make indian sweets… and the difficult ones at that. Those that involve boiling sugar syrups, stirring candy mixtures for hours and pounding all kind of spices before the confections can even set.
Latest attempt was at mysore pak, a sinfully rich golden fudge of south indian origin made of besan flour (ground chickpeas), sugar, pure ghee and freshly ground cardamon. And because there are so few ingredients, it becomes really important to make sure they are all uber-fresh, well measured out and added/mixed/stirred at just the right amounts… I mean, sometimes with cakes and cookies that call for eight or ten different things, you can afford to skimp on this or add a litte more of that in the hope that the other ingredients will make up for the one screwup. This unfortunately was not so…everything had to be just right. And the thing with fudge mixtures lik this one…it helps ALOT if you have a candy thermometer to figure out the different stages the sugar syrup goes through. Which predictably, I don’t.
So there I was, with a dish of ice-cold water, dropping in bits of sugar syrup to test if it could be moulded into malleable spherical shapes i.e. the soft-ball stage essential for fudge to set. And somehow, I was lucky enough to get there without too much mishap. Of course I managed to burn the inside of my wrist on the very hot burner, but a little bloodshed is to be expected in my kitchen adventures. Life wouldn’t be exciting enough if I didn’t burn a finger or nick a bit of skin every now and then. My battle scars. =)
So anyways, here’s my version of the sweet. It’s really yummy–melts in your mouth and mysteriously milky even though there is no dairy in it. I poured everything into a 9″ square tin and could cut out about 36 pieces of pak. Too much for the five of us at home so I did a little good natured distribution to my cousins…Why settle for just one diabetic in the family when you can drag them all down with ya eh? *grin*
Mysore pak (makes 30-36 diamonds)
1 1/2 cups besan flour
2 tbsp ghee (to roast the flour)
1 1/2 cups ghee, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups coarse sugar
1 3/4 cups water
4 cardamon pods
Melt 2 tbsp ghee in a wok. Roast flour until the raw smell of besan is gone.
Lightly pound the cardamon pods open, scrape out the seeds and pound into a fine powder.
Stir the melted ghee into the roasted besan and pour into a measuring jug. I only did this cos of the narrow mouth of the jug. Really helped to pour the flour mixture in a steady stream into the sugar syrup later without losing control.
Meanwhile, boil the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pot and continue to boil until syrup reaches a softball stage. This is when a teaspoon of syrup droppd into really cold water can be easily gathered into a soft ball in the water itself. If you take the ball out of the water, it should flatten within a few seconds.
At this point, pour the besan mixture into the sugar syrup in a steady stream, stirring continously. I stirred with my right and poured in the mixture with my left. Of course, a MUCH easier way to go would be to get someone to help. But I love challenges you see. haha.
Continue to stir the mixture vigorously until it thickens and leaves the sides of the pot. Switch of the flame, quickly stir in the cardamon and pour out into a 9″ tray greased lightly with ghee.
Level out the surface and let cool for about 3 minutes before cutting into diamonds/squares. Cool completely and serve. (Fyi, it tastes better the day after once the flavours have a chance to merge and mellow)