Odia Cuisine – Mandua Pitha
In this eastern Indian state, each festival is characterized by a special set of pithas that are offered to the deities.
Insight Bureau: “12 Maasa re 13 Paraba” is the popular saying every Odia has grown up listening to – referring to Odisha celebrating 13 festivals in 12 months. In this eastern Indian state, each festival is characterized by a special set of pithas that are offered to the deities. Most of the temples here, have varieties of pitha offerings depending on the availability of seasonal harvest and raw ingredients. Mandua Pitha is one such special dessert-delicacy with its place of origin, none other than, Odisha.
Also known as Atta Kakara Pitha, Mandua Pitha is one of the Mahaprasad offered to Lord Jagannath during “Madhyanna Dhupa”, signifying midday-meal between 12:30pm to 1:00pm. It is a sweet deep-fried cake which is prepared to be served hot or cold on most traditional festivals. It is also called Chandan Yatra Bhoga as this is the principal Bhoga offered to the Lord during Chandan Yatra.
Akshya Trutiya, or the 3rd day of Baisakha, marks the beginning of paddy season in the uplands of Odisha. The celebratory ritual is called “Akhi Muthi Anukula” which refers to the practice of sowing a hand-full of paddy seeds. Contrary to the folks in other parts of India who indulge in purchasing gold believing it to be Goddess Mahalakshmi, the ancestors of Odisha considered the golden paddy as the incarnation of Goddess Mahalakshmi and held it with utmost reverence.
Lord Jagannatha goes on a boat ride for 21 days, starting from Akshya Trutiya. The journey is believed as the major part of a festival known as Chandana Yatra. The representative deities are carried to the holy “Narendra Puskarini” in a decorated palanquin, where they are taken around the pond by boat. The ritual, which continues for 21 days, is called “Chapa” where the deities are bathed in scented, aromatic water inside the pond and offered bhoga. This bhoga is none other than Mandua Pitha, often referred to as Chandan Yatra Bhoga and has been mentioned in many folk songs and devotional renditions.
• Wheat flour : 1/2 cup
• Jaggery : 1/3 cup
• Cardamom / Elaichi : 1/2 teaspoon
• Gola Maricha / Black pepper : 1/2 teaspoon
• Ghee : 1 teaspoon
• Ghee / Oil : For deep frying
• Water : 1 and 1/2 cup
• Boil the water.
• Add gud/jaggery to it.
• Sprinkle cardamom.
• Once the mixture starts boiling, add wheat flour.
• Add ghee to it and leave it to boil for 10 minutes without interrupting the process in between.
• After 10 min, take a rolling pin and stir the cooked atta with it till it forms a soft dough.
• Another 10 min later, knead the dough to a soft consistency by greasing your hand with ghee.
• Now, knead the dough like chapathi but not as thin as chapathi.
• Cut it in round shape using a glass.
• Deep fry them in hot oil on low-medium heat till it turns golden brown.
• Fried kakara is now ready!
Whether it be a festive occasion or a pleasant weekend breakfast, pithas form a quintessential part of almost every course in a typical Odia household, one of which is Mandua Pitha.
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