“Baaro Massa Re Tero Parba”,thus goes the Odia folklore meaning the the Land of Lord Jagannath is the land of more than 13 festivals throughout 12 months in a year. Amid all the fun extravaganza ‘Pithas’ form an inevitable part of the celebrations come the festive seasons. These traditional cuisines are cooked to offer to the deity & thereby distributing them among all in the neighborhoods after the Puja is over. These mouth watering indigenous desserts come under the category of cakes and pancakes.
Pithas such as Chitau,Chandrakanti,Arrissa,Kakara,Enduri,Manda ,Modak & many more have their unique aroma ,taste & methods of preparation. Out of all these Podapitha is the state’s most popular & perhaps the age old that finds a profound place in the states ancient culinary tradition & also in Lord Jagannath Culture.
Usually prepared with thick batter of fermented rice,black gram, grated coconut & jaggery & thereby baked slowly on the conventional makeshift country side hearths( Chullah) by using the firewood,coal or cow dung cakes as the fuel Podapithas have evolved with respect to their ingredients & methods of preparation.
Traditional way of making Podapitha
The process begins with washing rice. Washed rice is spread upon thin linen or cotton clothes and left to be sun-dried. Next, the rice bereft of any moisture is hand-pounded to powder, chaula chuna, in a tool called dhenki. Fragrant and fiery spices like black pepper, bay leaf, ginger, cardamom and camphor are added to the powdered rice along with some sliced and grated coconut.
Then, water is added, little by little, to form a paste-like batter which is cooked on slow heat to form a loose dough. Think of non-glutinous flours which are made into doughs using hot water. The same method is followed to make a dough from the hand-made rice flour. The loose dough is wrapped in leaves, either sal or banana, greased with ghee and stitched with twigs.
This ensemble is then placed in an earthen vessel over wood fire, and many cinders are kept on top to gradually cook the dough. The resulting steamed cake has a caramelized layer at the bottom, the result of rice and jaggery burning and sticking at the base. This burnt base is what christened the cake as poda pitha. To enhance its wholesomeness, lentils like urad dal, soaked overnight and ground on stone mill, are also added to the batter.
Steps to prepare Podapitha in frying pan with ingredients easily available.
- Soak Rice and Urad Dal overnight. Wash them thoroughly.
- Grind to a coarse paste using very little water.
- Let the batter ferment for 4 hours .
4.In the batter add chopped coconut, chopped ginger, salt, jagarry.
5.Mix all the ingredients. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
6.Pre-heat the pressure cooker/kadhai.
7.Grease your kadhai with ghee or clarified butter.
8.Pour the batter into it the kadhai ,topping with cashew ,coconut and close the lid.
9.Place the kadhai in low flame for about 40-1hr.(Time may be vary according to the size of pan,size of Pitha.)
10.Now your hot poda pitha is ready.
11.Cut it into desired shapes and serve.
Stories Related To Podapeetha:
There is an interesting history behind the making of this particular poda pitha.Legend has it when Bharat of the Ramayan accused his mother Kaikeyi of forcing Lord Ram to go to the forest, she felt guilty and cried. To pacify her, Ram promised that in his next birth, he would visit her house and have pora pitha. Since then, the Mausi Maa temple is considered that of Kaikeyi who serves the sweet to Lord Jagannath. Gundicha is believed to be the queen of King Indradyumna (the maker of Jagannath temple).
It is believed that the Lord was pleased with the queen’s devotions and conferred a boon upon her, promising to visit her palace once a year for a few days’ stay. The residence of Queen Gundicha turned into a temple later. It is beautifully made on the lines of the Kalinga style of architecture.
It is a tradition for Lord Jagannath to stop at the Mausi Maa temple during Bahuda yatra on its way back from Gundicha temple to the Shree Mandir and have a bite of Podapitha before returning to his abode.
Of the many desserts made from rice, Jagannath is believed to relish Podapitha the most, a cake that goes way back into the state’s rich culinary history. Prepared with cereals ,dry fruites & that too baked with very little oil/Ghee ,Podapeetha is undoubtedly a healthy snack to munch on & a must try at home.Thank you.