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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Happy Ratha Jatra ( and the delectable Biri Poda Pitha )

Ratha jatra or the Car festival is one of the most important and eagerly awaited festivals in the Odiya calendar. It marks the annual trip made by Lord Jagannath to his mausi's abode. It is being celebrated on 10th of July this year.

Among the famous offerings being made to the Lord during his visit the one that stands out most is the 'Poda pitha'. This slowly baked cake made by using firewood and an earthern hearth is an intrinsic part of many odiya folklores.

Not to be confused with the 'Raja poda pitha', this one  has it own unique flavour. While the 'poda' prepared during Raja has 'chaula chuna' or rice flour as its main ingredient, Lord Jagannath's favorite makes use of 'biri chaula pithau' or black lentil and rice batter. Enriched with many aromatic ingredients like desi ghee, crushed ginger, crushed peppercorns, cardamom powder, jaggery, freshly grated coconut and coconut slices, this 'desi' cake can easily give the imported variants a run for their money.

I have given a slight twist to this traditional recipe by substituting the freshly grated coconut with a roasted and slightly caramelized version. Also, adding a tiny bit of baking powder helps with the leavening ( as fermentation takes longer in the cool climate of Bangalore ).



















Here's the recipe :

Ingredients:


  • 1 cup skinless black lentil ( chopa chada biri )
  • 2 cups rice  ( arua chaula )
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar/Jaggery ( adjust as per requirement )
  • a handful of dry fruits ( raisins and chopped cashews )
  • 1/2 cup chenna ( ricotta cheese ) 'Optional'
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup thin coconut slices
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 1/3 cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground peppercorn
  • 1 1/2 inch ginger ( finely crushed )
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • salt to taste


Preparation: Soak the rice and lentil overnight. Wash and grind into a fine paste the next morning. Allow to ferment for 10-20 hours depending on the climate.

Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a frying pan. Add the grated coconut and roast on a low flame till it starts turning brown. Add 2 tsp sugar and cook till the sugar melts and coats the coconut evenly giving it a beautiful brown hue. Allow this mixture to cool down.


















Mix the salt, remaining sugar/jaggery , dry fruits, cardamom powder, pepper, ginger, ghee, coconut slices and also the caramelized coconut into the batter. Finally add the baking powder and give it a good whisk. Let it stand for 5 mins before popping into the pre-heated oven.

Cooking: Preheat an oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

Take a good quality ovenproof dish which is about 2 inches deep. Grease the container with a good quantity of ghee.

Pour the batter into the baking dish.

Put in the oven and cook at 180 degrees for 30 mins. Then lower the temperature to about 150 degrees and bake for another 30 mins. Insert a toothpick to check if it comes out clean.







Remove from oven and let it cool down completely . Cut into pieces and serve with ghuguni and kheeri.

Have a great time enjoying the Poda pitha !!

3 comments:

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