Monday, June 13, 2011
Celebrating Raja Day 1 : (with) Janta Poda Pitha
Raja Sankranti ( or Swing festival) or "Mithuna Sankranti" is the first day of the month of 'Asadha' from which the season of rains starts. It augurs the start of the rains which brings joy to the farmers.The first day is called "Pahili Raja" , second is "Raja" (Raja Sankranti) and third is "Basi Raja" or "Raja basi" (Basumati Snana). It is more popularly celebrated in the Coastal districts of Orissa.
As per the popular legend, all three days of the festival are considered to be the
menstruating period of Mother Earth. During this festival all agricultural operations remain suspended. It is a festival mainly for the unmarried girls. They observe all the restrictions prescribed for a menstruating woman as in olden times. They take a oil-bath on the first day and wear new clothes. For the rest 2 days bathing or combing the hair is a taboo. Married women also observe the same rules for Raja during the first year of their marriage.
Swing are put up on Mango & Banyan trees at different places in the villages and cities. These days one can see the swings being put up in different clubs or colonies in BBSR or cuttack. 'Poda pitha' is the main delicacy prepared during Raja . Other varieties of pithas are also prepared and distributed among relatives and friends.
This year Raja is being celebrated from 14th to 16th June. Please do visit this space for a new pitha recipe everyday.
Here goes my delicacy for day 1 :
Janta Poda pitha
Cooking Time Required: 1 hour
Cost of Preparation: 60-70 Rupees
Ingredients: Broken Basmati rice ( 1 1/2 cups ), milk ( 3 cups ), water ( 1 cup ),
pepper powder ( 1/5 tsp ), cardamon powder ( 1/4 tsp ), sugar ( 4-5 tsp ), salt ( 1/4tsp ).
For the pura : Coconut ( finely grated, 1 no ), sugar ( 3 tsp ), raisins ( 1/2 cup ), ghee ( 1 tsp ).
Preparation: Soak the rice for 10-15 mins. Wash and drain all the water ( Use a
colander, do not dry under the fan or the sun ). Put in a grinder and grind into a fine powder.
Grate the coconut.
Cooking: Bring the milk and water to boil. Add salt, sugar, cardamon and pepper powder. Add the rice flour in small batches and mix continuously so that no lumps are formed.
Stir the mixture on a low flame for about 15 minutes till it takes on a softer
consistency than the dough used for making rotis . Switch off the flame at this stage.
Allow the dough to cool down a few degrees till it is tolerable. Rub ghee all over your hands and knead the still warm dough for 5 mins to make it smoother.
Heat a pan. Add ghee followed by the raisins and stir fry for 1 minute. Add grated
coconut and sugar at this stage. Fry for 5-6 minutes and remove from the stove.
Line a baking tray with foil. Spread a little ghee on the foil and add a layer of the dough about 1.5 cm thick. Spread a layer of the pura or coconut stuffing over it ( 0.5 cm thick ). Cover it with another layer of the dough ( 1 cm thick ). Spread about 1/3 tsp of ghee over it.
Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees. Put in the baking tray and bake at a temperature of 150 degrees for 40 minutes. Do not overdo it as the pitha should remain soft and should not harden .
Remove from the oven and allow to cool down for 1 hour.
Serve with kheer or alu dum/ghuguni/dalma. ( The poda pitha is not overly sweet and
hence it goes well with the curries.)
Note: The rice flour should be used within 2-3 days.