Express News Service
Odisha celebrates 13 festivals in 12 months, with each festival marked by a special set of pithas that are offered to the deities. Most of the temples in the state have varieties of pitha offerings depending on the availability of raw ingredients and seasonal harvest. When we talk about them, one in all likelihood is reminded of the subtly flavoured Manda, Enduri, Kakera, Arisha, Chandrakanti or Poda pithas.
However, there are many more that are rarely made in urban households today, blame it on lack of time or interest. Bhubaneswar-based home chefs Avinash Patnaik and Saroja Chaudhury are trying to change this notion by using social media to revive and popularise heirloom pithas which are not just integral to festivals but also weddings and every day rituals.
With very little literature available on Odia pithas except for scriptures, Avinash, a former agriculture officer with the Government of Odisha, is currently documenting these recipes and their significance. A foodie, Avinash has so far documented traditional recipes of 15 Odia pithas and the history behind them. “There are many varieties of pithas or sweet pancakes that form the basis of an Odia platter.
They can be steamed, deep-fried or pan-roasted, which define its texture and name”, says Avinash who posts the recipes on his social media handles that go by the name, Bhukad Insaan. Saptapuri or Satapuri pitha, for instance, is rarely made except for one day in a year. “Because making it is time-consuming and needs a lot of patience. It is a kind of sweet patties that has seven layers of Puri with sweet stuffing of coconut and jaggery in each layer and then fried in ghee.
It is made on the day of Saptapuri Amabasya (a day when ancestors are paid homage) in the Hindu month of Bhadrab and offered to Lord Jagannath,” says Avinash who began learning about them from his maternal grandmother and fellow food bloggers. Like Saptapuri, Chunchi Patra pitha is limited to certain parts of Odisha, related to festivals like Manabasa Gurubar.
The Khira Poda pitha and Ghora Manda are the USPs of Saroja who vlogs (YouTube) at Rosy’s Kitchen and runs a kitchen in Bhubaneswar by the same name. While the former is a popular delicacy from Berhampur in Ganjam district, the latter is made in Sundargarh district. The Khira Poda pitha or Khira Saku, she says, is a 1000- year-old milk cake recipe that is made from rice and milk. “Till a decade back, it was only made in some households during special occasions. But today, when people are getting to know about it through food blogs, the demand is increasing.
Narikel Pitha By Ganesh
Gangoni, Sous Chef, Mercure Hyderabad KCP
● Rice flour: 1 kg
● Water: 2 litres
● Ghee: 200 grams
● Green cardamom powder: 5 gm
● Desiccated coconut: 300 gm
● Chopped pista and almonds: 50 gm each
● Saffron: 1 gm
● Jaggery: 300 gm
● Honey: 100 ml
● Heat water until it boils and set it aside. Add rice flour and ghee and mix it.
● Make a dough and keep it aside
● Melt jaggery and add nuts, coconut, saffron and cardamom powder
● Make a mixture and keep it aside and cool it
● Now take dough and make small parts of it and stuff it with the mixture
● Steam it for 15 minutes. Drizzle honey on it and serve hot .