Talaa Pitha ( Ice Apple / Sugar Palm Fritters from Odisha )
Being an arthritic patient, she could not extract the juice herself as it requires a lot of effort. Hence we always got the extracted juice from our village which is a few hours distance from Rourkela. Since the sugar palm ripens during the cold winter months, the cool temperatures prevalent in the hilly regions of Western Odisha ensure that the fermentation process does not set in within a day or even two. Once the juice is cooked and made into these delicious fritters, they can be stored in air tight containers for up to a week.
I found this ripe fruit on my weekly trip to the HAL market in Marathahalli and could not resist buying one even though it cost me eighty rupees. One can get one for about 10 bucks in Odisha so it seemed rather steep at first. But the dormant foodie in me suddenly turned hyper thinking about the glorious possibilities that it could open up. And I ended up buying one. So, while a variety of dishes can be prepared using this wonderful fruit, the fritters and the poda pith happen to be my favorites. Here I am sharing the recipe for the fritters -
[This time does not include the 40-45 minutes of time required to extract the juice. Plus more time is required to boil and then cool it down completely before using it in any recipe. Refer to the process mentioned in the last section of this post.]
Preparation Time - 25 mins
- 1 cup sugar palm juice / Talaa
- 1 cup rice powder ( arua / jeera rice, approx as it depends on the thickness of the juice )
- 2 tsp semolina (suji)
- 3-4 tsp sugar (optional, the sugar palm already has loads of it )
- oil for deep frying
Preparation - Take all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix together to get a thick but dropping consistency.
Let it stand for 10-15 mins.
Cooking - Heat sufficient oil in a wok for deep frying the fritters.
Drop a few teaspoons of the batter at a time. Fry on all sides to a rich brown shade.
Remove and keep aside.
Repeat the process for the remaining batter.
Let it cool down completely before enjoying the fritters. Keep away some of them in an airtight container as they taste even better on the next day.
Extraction and Prepping of the juice -
- When you buy the ripe Sugar Palm, check for one that is a little mushy when you press it.
- Wash the outer surface and slice off the top portion.
- Carefully peel the black fibrous outer layer and throw it away.
- Put 1 cup water in a deep bowl and place the orange flesh in it. Squeeze and mash it to remove the hardened seeds. Throw away these seeds.
- Finally use a strainer to separate the juice from the fibers.
- Put this juice in a thick bottomed pan and place it on the burner. Bring it to a bubbling stage on a low flame.
- Let it bubble for 4-5 mins before switching off the flame. Remember to keep stirring it throughout.
- Once it cools down completely (takes a few hours), one can use it. Boiling the juice reduces the bitter notes in it though a slight bitterness can still be detected. Add a little sugar will mask it further.