Oriyas fight winters with a delicacy covered in turmeric leaves
Unwrap the secret of health
The earthy sweet aroma of haldi patra pitha on a winter morning makes me nostalgic like every non-resident Oriya. The delicacy is the speciality of Prathama Ashtami, a festival that falls on the eighth day after Kartik Purnimathe full moon day in late October or early November that heralds the winter season.
I vaguely remember the tales associated with the festival. But the memory of my mother and aunts fervently invoking God to bestow good health on children and the overwhelming aroma of the pitha are still vivid. The puja ends with the distribution of the pitha. Children, patient till then, fall over themselves for the sweet. The key to good health, says my mother, lies in the pitha. The sweet dish, also called enduri pitha, is wrapped in green turmeric leaves before it is steamed. The leaves impart a subtle flavour to the batter and infuse nutrients into the pitha. These nutrients help us stay fit during winters, she explains.
|HALDI PATRA PITHA|
Polished urad dal (black gram) 500g
Grated fresh coconut 250g
Salt 1 teaspoon
Crushed ginger 10g
Mix ginger and jaggery with coconut. Roast it in a pan till it turns chocolate brown. Leave it over the flame for five minutes. Add ground cardamom just before putting off the flame.
Soak the rice and urad dal separately overnight. In the morning strain the rice and grind it dry into a slightly coarse powder. Grind urad dal with water. Mix the rice powder with urad dal paste. Add salt and leave it for three-four hours to ferment. Cut the leaves six inches long. Place the steamer on a low flame. Spread one and a half tablespoon batter evenly over the shiny side of each leaf, leaving a thin margin. Place a line of filling in the middle of the batter. Fold the leaves along the length and place them in the steamer. The leaves stick on their own. Cook at medium heat for 15 minutes. Pithas can be served hot or cold. Unwrap the leaves and sink your teeth into a healthy bite.
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