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Showing posts with label odia pitha. Show all posts
Showing posts with label odia pitha. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Manabasa Gurubar : Breaking caste barriers













The story behind Manabasa Gurubar. Taken from a 15th-century text, namely 'Laxmi Purana', that is read in almost every Odia home on Thursdays during the Hindu month of Margashira. 


A story that is helmed by the two protagonists, Maa Lakshmi and Sriya Chandaluni. One woman who supports another in the garb of a Goddess who blesses her disciplined and hardworking devotee irrespective of the latter's social standing. Cleanliness (or rather being industrious) is the key to appeasing the Goddess we are told.

Next is the character of Lord Balabhadra ( Jaganaath's elder brother). He epitomizes the high-handedness of a patriarchal society meting out unjust punishment to women for crossing their boundaries. In this case, by visiting the adobe of a 'Chandala' or social outcaste.

Lastly, the character of Lord Jagannath, Maa Lakshmi's husband who fails to stand up for her. He is torn between his elder brother and his wife. 

The transgression is followed by the banishment of the Goddess from her home. Then begins the 'Lakshmi-chawda' ( roughly translated into one abandoned by Lakshmi) phase of Princes who are turned into paupers. In a dramatic turn of events, the siblings are even denied food and water as the elements of nature conspire with the Goddess to bring the former to their senses. A beautifully narrated episode that establishes the Goddess's all-encompassing role as the center of the Universe.

The final redemption of the siblings is when they hungrily partake food at another 'Chandala' home (a test devised by Maa Lakshmi) thereby completing the cycle and vindicating the Goddess's stance. Food is positioned as the common denominator in this story. No one is above it. Hence to this date, people from all castes are allowed to partake in the 'Mahaprasad' from the same pot at the Jagannath Dham in Puri. The concept of 'Makara' or 'Sangata' seems to have evolved from the same philosophy. 

It's a story that seems to be quite ahead of its time. Sadly the Lakshmi Purana has been turned into just another 'holy book' that is read for the sake of it. While it does have its share of clich├ęs and parts of it may not be relevant in today's date, it is a timeless tale. And the feminist and socialist tone is in sync with the period during which it was written. 

Jau / Jukha

'Jau' or rice from the season's harvest cooked with a trickle of milk, a dash of sugar and a single Annapurna(Pandan) leaf is one of the most important 'bhoga' or offerings made by my mother on Manabasa Gurubar. This is not 'kheer' or dessert but something which can be eaten as a main dish. 

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup new rice (aromatic is preferred)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2-3 tsp sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1-2 Pandan leaves
  • 5-6 cups water

Method - Bring the water to a boil in a thick-bottomed vessel. Wash the rice thoroughly and drain it. Add to the boiling water and stir it so that it doesn't catch at the bottom.

Add the salt. Lower the flame and let it cook till the rice is cooked. Add the Pandan leaves and cook for 15-20 mins longer so that the grains start to disintegrate. Top with more hot water if required.

Add 1/4 cup milk, 2-3 tsp sugar and a pinch of salt. Remove from flame and eat warm with a simple fry (or 'bhaja') or just by itself.

Various kinds of Pitha are also an important part of the Manabasa bhoga. Usually, a different kind is made every 'Manabasa pali' or Thursday. Kakara Pitha (image below) made with rice flour and stuffed with coconut jaggery is one of the mandatory pithas made in our home.




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.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Potali Pitha

Potali Pitha is traditional prasad or offering at the Shri Baladev Ji Mandir in Kendrapara. If you are a nature lover of sorts, then you must be aware of this nondescript district of Odisha. It houses the famous Bhitarkanika National Park, home to the endangered Saltwater crocodiles and quite a few other species of animals. This region is also home to a lush and thriving mangrove population, which covers an area of 650 square kilometers on the delta formed by rivers Brahmani and Baitarini.

This was the first time I got a chance to savor this delicacy and i quite liked it. It has quite a familiar flavour ( sweet with notes of edible camphor) that most of our pithas ( especially ones made for prasadam ) have. More specifically, I would say it tastes like a cross between a sweet atta chakuli and a kakara. While I haven't tried making it at home, I got the recipe from one of the regular visitors to this temple ( the same person who got the Pithas for us ). Read on for the recipe ( Loved the original packaging very much...have clicked the picture in the same...a leaf basket ):

















For the pancakes (outer layer of the Pitha):
2 cups maida ( all purpose flour )
1 tsp ghee (warm)
a pinch of salt

For the stuffing:
1 cup chenna,
1 cup freshly grated coconut,
5-6 tsp sugar
1 pinch of camphor
2 green cardamon powdered
2 tsp ghee

2-3 tbs whole wheat flour
2-3 tbs molasses (this is a form of liquid jaggery)
More ghee for frying.

Preparation - Take the maida, salt and warm ghee in a mixing bowl. Add enough water to make a pancake batter. Mix carefully to remove lumps if any.

Mix all the ingredients for stuffing (except for ghee in another bowl). Keep aside.

Mix the whole wheat flour, molasses and a little water in a separate bowl. Keep aside.

Cooking - Heat a wok. Add 2 tsp ghee. Add the stuffing mixture and roast on medium flame for 2-3 minutes. Remove from flame and allow to cool down.

Heat a tawa or frying pan. Rub in a little ghee for greasing the surface.

Take a ladle of the maida batter and pour on the tawa. Roll the tawa or use the ladle to spread the batter evenly into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Drizzle with more ghee.

Spread some of the stuffing on one half of circle. Fold the circle into half and apply gentle pressure to close the pitha ( Or one can use some of the batter as a glue ).Flip over and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Remove from flame and allow to cool down a bit. Make more such stuffed pancakes with the remaining batter and stuffing.

Now dip each pancake/pitha in the wheat flour-molasses mixture and place on a heated tawa/frying pan. Drizzle and fry each side with more ghee to get a lovely deep brown color.





Monday, November 18, 2013

Attakali ( Gaintha pitha )

Gaintha pitha or Attakali is a special pitha that is usually prepared during the oriya month of 'Margasira'. The thursdays that fall in this month are celebrated as 'Manabasa Gurubar', the worship of a vessel filled with rice grains that symbolizes Goddess Lakshmi. The married women keep a fast, eat only arwa or raw rice, prepare a variety of pithas from rice/rice flour and read a text called the 'Manabasa' Bahi. In some parts of Orissa the 'Lakshmi Hathi', brass figurines that symbolize Goddess Lakshmi are also worshiped on this day. These figurines are usually a family heirloom and are passed down by the lady of the house to her daughter in law. Check the snaps below:


































In the left hand side corner of the above picture one can see the 'Dhana Benti', long stands of harvested paddy which also form an important part of this Puja. This year the first Gurubar of Margasira Masa falls on 21st November. But since Prathamasthami falls after this date (26th November), it will be celebrated in some parts of Odisha on 28th November.















The Kalasa ( on the left corner ) and the Manaa ( on the right corner behind the Deepam ) being worshipped in the above picture. The manaa is filled with paddy/rice and covered with a new cloth.

















The special stone vessels known as 'Pathuri', used to offer the prasadam to Goddess Lakshmi.

Read on for the recipe for Gaintha pitha:






Preparation Time - 30-40 minutes

Ingredients - 2/3 cup arwa rice ( Sita bhog, Gobindo Bhog or even Sona masuri raw rice will do ), 1/2 tsp coarsely ground pepper, 2-3 green cardamon, 2-3 tsp ghee, (1/2 cup + 2-3 tsp) sugar, 3 cups milk, 1/5 tsp salt.

Preparation - wash and soak the rice for 2-3 hours. Drain all water and spread on a plate to dry (preferably in the balcony or under a fan) for 1-2 hours.

Take the rice in a grinder jar and grind into a smooth powder.

Cooking - Heat 2 cups of water in a wide base non-stick vessel. Add salt, pepper powder and 1-2 crushed cardamon to the boiling water. Add 2-3 tsp sugar.

Use a sieve to gently sift the rice flour into the boiling water. Keep stirring all the time to prevent formation of lumps.

Cook the rice flour till it turns into a stiff dough and leaves the sides of the vessel.

Allow to cool down for 10-15 minutes till it is bearable to touch.

















Add the ghee to the dough and knead for 3-4 minutes to smooth/even it out. Take small lumps out of the dough and roll into small balls (smaller than a lemon).
















Bring the milk to boil in a deep vessel. Add the sugar and remaining cardamon. (One can also add a little condensed milk at this stage).

Add the balls. Initially the balls will sink to the bottom. Boil for 5-7 minutes or till the ball begin to rise to the surface. This is now done. (Do not boil any longer or the balls will melt/break)


















This recipe can also be prepared with suji (semolina).

Note - I recently came to know that they make a very similar recipe down south called Pala Undrallu.

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