Food

This sweet stall in Bengaluru has been selling Mysore Pak for over 100 years

Sri Venkateshwara Sweetmeat Stall, started over a century ago in Chikkaballapura, is among the oldest vendor of sweets in the city

In Bengaluru, if you are on a quest for the best Mysore pak, you will hear people sing praises of Sri Venkateshwara Sweetmeat Stall at Balepete Main Road (in the Chickpete area). And with good reason. Although it is a challenge to manoeuvre through the chaotic traffic on this narrow road, you realise how much one can stretch to pamper one’s cravings.

Sri Venkateshwara has been in the business of making sweets for 100 years. At the 800 square foot store which, at any point, holds three dozen customers inside, air-conditioning is the main update, with a chaat counter and seating. “The traffic and the dust could no more be ignored, and we have to go with the times,” says Raghu Nagaraj, the third generation of owners, who now runs the enterprise with his brother Srinath. “What remains the same is our taste of Mysore pak and dumrot,” he smiles, leading the way into his well-organised, neat kitchen spread almost at three levels of the old building where nearly three dozen chefs, cooks, and helpers interact. Pointing at the sacks made of gram flour, Raghu says, “We even have the gram milled and sieved here.”

This sweet stall in Bengaluru has been selling Mysore Pak for over 100 years
 

“We crossed a century this year. Venkateshwara Sweetmeat Stall was started by my father VA Venkatachalapathy Setty at Chikkaballapura. It ran for 35 years, then in 1954 the sweets business shifted to Bengaluru,” says Nagaraj V, son of Setty, who continued the family tradition by making Mysore pak, dumrot, badam halwa, and kobri mithai. He then gradually introduced other variants.

“It is only when you eat our sweets that you get the Venkateshwara experience,” he says as trays heavy with hot, traditional Mysore pak and dumrot arrive with ‘next-level sweets.’ The simmering golden yellow Mysore pak melts in your mouth, before you can figure out whether it is ghee or gram flour in focus.

“The recipe for Mysore pak has been passed on from my father. It remains our king. We follow a series of steps and methodologies, apart from a formula and list of ingredients,” says Nagaraj. While he elaborates on how the gram dal is selected, ground and sautéed, with the ghee added in stages, he makes it clear that “only pure butter from our own long-time suppliers are used, just as our paka (sugar syrup) is a time-tested method my mother Lakshmi Devamma perfected,” says Nagaraj, adding, “That special aroma is from our fragrant cardamom powder.”

“I have been a patron of the store for six decades now,” says MK Anantharaman, an enthusiastic customer. “You will be astonished to see the crowds that descend from various parts of the State, especially during Karaga season where nobody returns without their share of Mysore pak. Your hands too retain its aroma.”

This sweet stall in Bengaluru has been selling Mysore Pak for over 100 years
 

Mysore pak, badam halwa and mixture have been my regular buys at this heritage corner,” adds Anantharaman. Speaking about the discipline that Setty followed with his recipes, Nagaraj says, even when he created dumrot, a sweet made out of ash gourd and sugar, he wanted it pressed on banana leaf, put in a large copper vessel and baked on charcoal for the crust to be more flavourful. “We follow his procedure,” says Nagaraj. “Setty was restless, he was incredibly creative. He insisted that too much rest would rust your brain,” he laughs, adding that from the age of 16, his father sold sweets and mixture at temple festivals.

Discussing his plans to take this legacy forward, Raghu says they have made additions to the menu. Oleamor, made with dry fruit and chocolate, for instance. “We also have caramel dry fruit gujjia, kaju coffee crunch, ice cream burfi, and aam papad with layers of sliced white chocolate,” says Raghu.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 11:21:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/sri-venkateshwara-sweetmeat-stall-mysore-pak/article28617868.ece

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