‘Mysore Pak born out of urge for new sweet’

...says Yaduveer Wadiyar during a workshop on the cuisines of royal heritage and the way it is being adapted for the present times 
(From left) S Babaji Rajah Bhonsle, Yaduveer Wadiyar, Krishna Devaraya, Surya Prabha Gorpade, Rathna Krishnadevaraya  Nagaraja Gadekal
(From left) S Babaji Rajah Bhonsle, Yaduveer Wadiyar, Krishna Devaraya, Surya Prabha Gorpade, Rathna Krishnadevaraya  Nagaraja Gadekal

BENGALURU: In the royal household in Mysuru, prasadam used to be prepared in a separate kitchen, which was only reserved for festivities, while another kitchen was meant for daily use. The glimpse into the family’s regal tradition was shared by Yaduveer Wadiyar of the Wadiyar dynasty of Mysore at a panel discussion held on the significance of satvik food in the city on Sunday. 

The discussion was organised by B.E.S.T Innovation University, Andhra Pradesh, and Heritage at Taj West End as a part of the ‘Ahara’ series, a workshop that focussed on the aesthetic angle of food and its benefits to the body by keeping Ayurveda, yoga and spiritualism in sync. Moderated by Rakesh Raghunathan, food writer and commentator on the tele-series, Dakshin Diaries, the scions of four erstwhile royal families of India spoke about the cuisine that thrived during their ancestors’ time and their childhood, and the way they have adapted to the modern trend of eating out at restaurants or ordering in.

“In Thanjavur, we have two books from the late 1700s - Sampradayika Pakashastra, which mainly deals with recipes and special ingredients to be used while cooking, and Sarpendra Bhojana Guduburam, which gives an in-depth description of nutritious quality and medicinal values of food items,” revealed S Babaji Raja Bhonsle of the Thanjavur Maratha dynasty, adding that they had a vegetarian satvik kitchen and a non-vegetarian Maratha kitchen with a Continental butler in the house.

Kumbakonam Kadappa, a dish which brings out the Thanjavur-Maratha history, is like potato kurma but it has moong dal, and it bears the seasonings of sambar but also contains poppy seeds, coconut and cashew. Raghunathan’s interest on how these cuisines have evolved and their ancestor’s influence in the South brought Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagar Tulava dynasty and his wife Rathna Krishnadevaraya to talk about the evolution that came about in his family.

“There was a particular cuisine that was prepared for the Vijayanagara kings, which was low on spices to soothe the digestive system. This gave enough strength to their body to fight battles. Back then, there was a time when the whole village was fed one meal of the royal cuisine. The utensil used to cook it is still with us. This is one interesting part of history that we preserve. The prasadam, Naivaidya, still continues to be distributed at Hampi Virupaksha temple. The rice is soaked and ground, and we use chana dal, cashews, raisins and ghee,” she said, adding that the wild boar recipe was also an interesting part of the family’s culinary history.

“Recently, the growth of restaurants has peaked. Chefs have the time and patronage to be really creative and take inspirations from ancient texts and revive the recipes of princely states, and add the current trends. We do use ancient recipes during poojas, so in a way, we are keeping the royalty alive. New recipes were always a craze and that’s how Mysore Pak came into the scene. It was born out of the urge that one of my ancestors had to bring out a new sweet,” said Wadiyar, adding that the legacy is something that makes our Indian heritage richer.

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