Poda Pitha made with rice flour, black gram,jaggery, dry fruits along with spices such as ginger,cardamom and cloves is part of a special festival in Odisha called Raja . It is an agricultural oriented festival popularly celebrated in the Coastal districts of Odisha for 3 days where food plays a major role in the form of Pithas .
This festival also known as Swing festival marks the beginning of agricultural year all over Odisha, when the first shower of monsoon makes the paddy fields ready for productivity. Raja Sankranti is the first day of the month of ‘Asadha’ from which the season of rains starts.The first day of the Raja festival is known as Pahili Raja where (Pahili means first). The second day is known as Raja Sankranti, the day from which rainy season starts. the 3rd day of this festival is known as Basi Raja or Basumati Snana . The preparation for this festival starts from the previous day of Pahili Raja known as Sajabaja. During this festival, Basudha Mata or Mother Earth is considered to be a menstruating woman. Hence digging of soil or tempering it in anyway is strictly prohibited. The Mother Earth is given rest just like a woman imposed with several restrictions during their menstrual days.
During this 3 days , the unmarried girls are not allowed to do any kind of manual works.The girls wear new dresses, eat homemade cakes and roam with their friends and enjoy the swings or doli which are tied to the branches of big trees.The atmosphere is filled with jolly spirit of girlhood days and refer to the glorious future waiting for them in the form of happy love and marriage.
One of the most important part of this festival is Poda Pitha or Burnt cake means roasted. Pitha is a part of the people of Odisha where it is made from agrarian products like rice,lentils,coconut, jaggery etc. Traditionally, Poda pitha is prepared with the rice batter which is wrapped in banana leaves that are smeared with ghee, and roasted in a earthern chulha,after the days’ cooking is done. The pitha roasts slowly in the low heat allowing the flavours of the ashes and the burnt banana leaves seeping in . Once the fire has completely put off, then it is removed . That lightly burnt outer layer and the soft texture inside the pitha is one of the tastiest bites that one can have.
In the absence of those chulhas in our modern households, it has transformed itself to be made in a heavy bottomed kadhai or #baked just like a cake . The famous Poda Pitha of Odisha is going to be the part of our 96th Theme of Foodie Monday BlogHop event.This poda pitha is usually served with mansa tarkari or Mutton curry.
Ingredients for Poda Pitha
- 1 cup Rice
- ¾ cup split Urad dal or Black gram
- 1 cup jaggery
- 1 cup grated fresh coconut
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh coconut
- 1 inch grated ginger
- ½ tsp crushed green cardamom pods
- ½ teaspoon black pepper crushed
- 3 to 4 tbsp ghee
- 1 ripe banana mashed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup raisins and cashew nuts
- Soak rice and urad dal for 5 to 6 hours or overnight. Wash and grind them to a coarse paste using very little water and set aside for 3 to 4 hours for fermenting.
- Lightly fry the cashew nuts and raisins in ghee and keep aside.
- Mix jaggery, ghee, mashed banana, cardamoms, black pepper, ginger, roasted raisins, cashew nuts, coconut,salt and mix well .
- Add these to the batter along with baking powder and give it a stir to mix everything well.
- Preheat an oven to 180’C and grease a baking pan with ghee and pour the batter. place the thinly sliced coconut on top and Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or till done.Remove and let it cool down.
- Slice and serve this traditional Poda Pitha