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Showing posts with label Raja special Pitha. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Raja special Pitha. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sijha (Muan) Pitha ( And A Happy Raja to All )

The swings have sprung up all over the city. The latest Odia blockbusters are also out. Malls look all spruced up. Ongoing sales have the people coming out of their home in droves. Pretty girls are everywhere to be seen. And there is even a 'Raja Queen' contest to anoint the prettiest amongst them. That's the typical scene in Bhubaneshwar or even the smaller towns and cities of Coastal Odisha during Raja, the 3 day festival that is celebrated in honor of Mother Earth. Being one of the rare festivals that celebrate menstruation, the three days signal a period of complete rest from physical labor ( in accordance with what Ayurveda prescribes and not what marketeers of the extra absorbent winged protection and menstruation cups would like us to believe ) and eating to one's heart content.

Now for a scene from a typical Odia household that boasts of a hell raiser (aka a teenager). Makeup. Check. New outfits. Check. A spring in the step. Check. Pitha. Skip. "It's so loaded with calories", being the most common refrain with teenagers who are turning weight conscious. "What ? Do these teens think that KFC and their ilk fry chicken in water ?", I want to shout back. But then I already know the answers. As do these people.

But then, some wise Odia lady of yore was obviously thinking ahead of her time as she lovingly doled out pithas to her extended family. The humble pitha or the traditional Odia snack ( both sweet and savoury ) comes in a dazzling array of shapes, sizes and flavors. And thankfully, all of them are not ghee-guzzling entities that could give nightmares to any fitness freak. Or for that matter, any individual who believes in a moderate diet. The 'Muan Pitha' or 'Sijha Pitha' is just one among them. A steamed savoury delight with just the right amount of sweetened roasted coconut stuffed into it, it is usually eaten with a yellow peas curry or Ghuguni.

The traditional method of preparing one is to tie a piece of clean cloth over the mouth of a wide vessel containing water. A thick batter is poured over the cloth, covered with a lid and steamed till it is cooked. But I have employed the steamer attachment of a rice cooker to prepare this Pitha with almost identical results. Plus, it is minus the mess caused by the traditional one.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup urad dal ( skinless )
  • 2 cups rice
  • 2 cups freshly grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup powdred jaggery ( as par taste )
  • 2 green cardamom ( powdered )
  • 1 tsp black pepper ( powdered )
  • 1 1/2 tsp ghee
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Soak the rice and urad dal overnight. Wash and grind into a fine paste the next morning. Allow to ferment for 10 hours or so depending on the climate. 

Season the batter with salt just before steaming the pitha.

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a wok. Add the coconut and roast till it starts getting a little brown.

Add the powdered jaggery and cook till jaggery melts and coats the coconut evenly. Finally add the powdered spices,mix in and switch off the flame.

Grease a steamer pan with ghee . Pour a layer of batter about 1 cm thick. Spread a layer of the sweetened roasted coconut over it and finally cover it with another layer of the batter.

Boil water in the main pan. Place the steamer pan over it and close lid. Let it steam for about 15-20 mins.

Switch off the rice cooker/steamer. Remove the steamer attachment carefully. Let it cool down for a while before you cut the pitha into pieces of desired size.

Serve with a curry of your choice.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Welcoming Raja Festival 2015 !!!

Raja or the advent of monsoon is a big festival in Odisha. This year it is being celebrated from 14th to 16th of June. It is time to don the chef's hat and indulge in making some of Odisha's glorious 'Pithas'. Apart from the regulation Poda pitha, karara and chunchipatra pitha, there are lots of delectable pithas that one can sample from. Check below -

Check out the recipes HERE.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Chunchipatra Pitha ( an Odia Delicacy )

Today is the last day of Raja, a three day celebration in Odisha. (Click on the link to read more about the festival  ). I have been very busy making various types of pithas (sweet snacks) and hence did not get the time to post anything over the weekend.

This is a special recipe that I learnt recently from Ritu maam and had a chance to make it for the first time during Raja. A very interesting traditional dish, one does not rely on any fancy kitchen tool but a bunch of 'Doob' grass to fashion it. The batter used is a normal rice flour one but with a very runny (almost water like) consistency. One just dips the bunch of grass into it and sprinkles a cross symbol on a flat vessel or a tawa. Now, this 'tawa' should be maintained at an optimal temperature, not too hot nor too cold (quite like a dosa). Then one puts some stuffing ( this can either be sweet like a coconut-jaggery mixture or savoury like potato/paneer/vegetable ) in the center and folds the ends over it to close it like a pocket. But these days we find ourselves living in concrete jungles and grass is tough to come by ( and even if we do, God forbid what chemicals/pesticides people spray on the lawns these day ) . So, a clean piece of thin cloth folded into a rectangle shape will do in place of the grass. What I find most endearing about this dish is the fact that the layers are paper thin (almost transparent) and one can actually see the stuffing inside.

So, read on for a refreshingly different recipe -

Preparation Time - 30-40 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup basmati/jeera/arwa rice 
  • 1 whole coconut
  • sugar/jaggery to taste
  • 1-2 green cardamoms
  • 1-2 tsp ghee
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Wash and soak the rice overnight.

Drain excess water. Grind it into a very fine paste. Add salt and more water to the batter. Make it quite runny in consistency. Keep aside for 1-2 hours.

Grate the coconut and keep aside.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp ghee in a wok. Add the coconut and fry till it starts turning light brown. Add sugar/jaggery at this point and keep stirring till it is completely dissolved. Remove from flame and keep aside.

Heat a tawa. Lightly grease with ghee. Use a paper towel to wipe off/remove the excess as it will not allow the batter to spread properly.

Take a thin cotton cloth/handkerchief and fold it into a rectangle. Dip into the batter, remove and brush lightly over the tawa making a cross symbol with it. Keep the flame low to medium. As it gets cooked, the ends will slightly lift up.

Put the coconut stuffing in the center and fold the ends over it. Remove from tawa and keep aside.

Wipe the tawa with a paper towel and proceed with another pitha. (After making 4-5 pithas, the batter gets slightly thicker. Add a few teaspoons of water to dilute it and adjust salt accordingly)

Serve hot with curry/dalma.

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