Ask about Karnataka's most popular mithai and Mysorepak is the obvious answer. But there is another sweetmeat that many swear by, the kunda, from Belgaum in north Karnataka. The sweetmeat makers, Purohits, have been boiling and reducing hundreds of thousands of litres of milk for the last 60 years, giving those with a love for sweet tooth in northern Karnataka and Goa, the coarse brown sweetmeat called kunda.
The making of kunda according to Purohit is very simple. Unlike other mithais which require finesse and fuss at the time of preparation, to make kunda all you need is milk, sugar, patience and the ability to tolerate sweat. "You need to boil the milk until it is reduced down to one eighth of its original quantity. Then you add the sugar and keep churning the mixture until the milk begins to burn slightly and forms a brownish paste. Then you add a little bit of cardamom powder and there you have it ready. If you want you can add some dry fruits too," Purohit says.
While the recipe is simple enough, the origin of this mithai is rooted in rustic charm. "Gangaram Mithaiwala, whose shop still runs at Shahpur in Belgaum, used to have a mithai maker named Jakku. One day Jakku left the milk boiling and forgot about it. He returned only when the milk had nearly dried up and was reduced to a brown paste. He added some sugar to it, and it tasted lovely. That is how this mithai was born," says the 70-year-old K.S. Purohit.
And why did he name it kunda? "That was his daughter's name," Purohit said.