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Pitha flies from pan to foreign lands
- Entrepreneur’s efforts help Oriya dish find customers overseas

Bhubaneswar, July 7: Arisha pitha has gone global. This popular Oriya dish may have disappeared from the plates of many households in the state, but the dry, round-shaped delicacy has become quite a rage in dining rooms abroad.

Most of the credit goes to Tara Das, who has been fighting an almost solitary battle to keep Orissa’s “traditional taste” alive here at home and overseas.

“I receive orders from customers living in the US, Germany and Japan. My clients include NRIs, non-resident Oriyas as well as foreigners,” said Das, who is a resident of the capital’s Sailashree Vihar.

So well known is her particular brand of arisha pitha that Das does not even have to foot the bill of sending her items by courier to her overseas customers. Instead, it is her clients who collect Das’s preparations from friends and relatives who live in Orissa.

“I received four phone calls from foreign customers in past three months. All of them gave bulk orders,” said Das.

The pitha expert sells nearly 2,000 pieces of arisha pitha on any given day. The production touches 3,000 a day during festive occasions and the auspicious wedding season. Each arisha pitha, which weighs nearly 100 gram, costs Rs 3.50.

She also prepares a special kind of arisha pitha that costs Rs 12 per piece. The delicacy, made of rice powder and jaggery, can be preserved for at least one month in any season.

Das claims that it is the hectic lifestyle of today’s world that is stopping people from making the pitha, which involves intricate and time-consuming methods.

Arisha pitha has almost vanished from households in the state. People have become so busy that they do not get the time needed to prepare the dish. Plum cakes have replaced the pitha in most homes,” she said, “and so I have been trying to keep the tradition alive.”

Residents of the city agree with Das. “I make arisha pitha at home only when I get the time,” said Sanjukta Mishra, a resident of Niladree Vihar. “But I never manage to match Tara Das’s preparations. She knows the secret to prepare the most perfect arisha pitha,” Mishra added.

So famous is her arisha pitha that shopkeepers, hoteliers and restaurateurs from Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and far-off places make a beeline before her house (from where she operates her business) everyday. Her special style of making the pitha and the way she has promoted it have won her many accolades in the past.

She started her business on August 16, 1999. After the death of her husband, her son, Sidhharth, has been providing the much-needed support to the business.

“My son has been toiling hard to market the product. I have hired four people, who are also helping me a lot in preparing arisha pitha,” she said.

Das is eager to participate in various food shows in foreign countries. “I would like to urge the state tourism department to help me market this mouth-watering delicacy in foreign countries,” Das said.

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