Poda pithas take the cake

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By NAMITA PANDA
  • Published 16.06.11
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People distribute pithas among relatives. Telegraph pictures

Bhubaneswar, June 15: The irresistible aroma of ethnic Oriya country cakes and dishes, a unique element of Raja celebrations, can be sensed in households across the state. Other rituals of the festival may have faded with time in urban regions, but women in cities have kept the authentic recipe of the wide array of pithas intact.

Prepared with different varieties of flour, the delectable forms of Oriya country cakes such as poda pitha, monda pitha, aarisa pitha and kakara can be seen at households as well as markets during the three-day festival.

Poda pitha is the chief item for Raja and we prepare it every year to distribute among neighbours and relatives. I had learnt the item from my mother-in-law,” says Smrutishree Jena, a corporate employee.

“Since women are supposed to avoid cooking during the festival, we keep them ready a couple of days before the festival,” she adds.

This popular item is usually prepared with black gram, jaggery, coconut, clove, cardamom and so on. Some also prepare it with semolina. The batter is baked or steamed to get the aromatic dish.

The fried arisa pitha prepared of rice flour and sugar, the scrumptious monda pitha made of a dough of crushed rice and milk and filled with grated coconut stuffing and the moong dal preparation of moon-shaped chandrakantis are some other major pithas cooked during Raja.

“It is good to see pithas being prepared in huge numbers and varieties even today,” says Saraswati Tripathy, a septuagenarian homemaker.

“In villages we used to prepare at least 10 different dishes. Here, a similar platter is prepared by my daughter-in-law and granddaughters,” she adds.

Many hotels also serve the pithas and even accept take-away orders for them.

“We get heavy orders for pithas. So, we keep on adding the number of varieties every year,” said Alok Mishra, marketing manager of Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC).