- Preeti Shridhar
What is Pitha?
Pithas are a variety of food similar to pancakes or dumplings originating from the Indian subcontinent, common in Bangladesh and India. Pitha can be sweet or savoury, and usually made from a dough or batter, which is then steamed, fried or griddled.
Kakara pitha is a sweet deep-fried delicacy from Odisha offered to temple deities and served hot or cold on many festivals. It is made with semolina or whole wheat flour.
Kakra Pitha is traditionally deep fried, but since I avoid deep fried stuff I decided to give it a try in my newly bought air fryer. So I deep fried half of them and the other half I air fried to know the difference in texture and taste.
The stuffing was juicier in deep fried ones but the pitha was full of oil as semolina soaks up a lot of oil while frying. Appearances are deceptive, this holds true for the the air fried Pithas, as they were equally crunchy and tasty without soaking up any oil. So I am all for air fried ones.
I have found a wonderful dessert/ naivedyam which is very tasty yet guilt free.
I recently joined a group on Facebook "Shh Cooking Secretly Challenge".
This is a fun group, where every month a theme is given by one member...then all the members are divided into groups of two. Now these two buddies give each other two secret ingredients based on the theme. Then each member prepares a dish using these two secret ingredients and posts the pic on the group without naming the dish. Others are asked to guess the ingredients. It's so much fun. You are challenged to create something new. You interact with so many members and make some wonderful friends.
This month's theme is Odia Pitha , suggested by @Sasmita Sahoo Samanta. She has a treasure trove of Odia recipes on her blog
I am quite intrigued by her carrot chutney
I instantly decided to participate as I am not very well versed with Odia Cuisine. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn something new.
By the way she also happens to be my partner for this theme. She gave me Jaggery and fennel seeds as secret ingredients, while I gave her moong dal and cardamom powder. She has created these beautiful looking pitha Chandrakanti. I am going to make these at the first given opportunity.
When I got jaggery as one of the secret ingredient I was quite happy as my husband loves jaggery and coconut combo. So I decided to make something where I could use these two as stuffing. Hence I zeroed down on Kakra Pitha. Black Pepper Powder adds an interesting touch . Sudden heat from black pepper powder in a mouthful of sweetness gives a unique pleasure.
Couple of Odia recipes you can check out on the blog
Rawa (Semolina) 1 cup
Water 3 cups
Fennel Seeds 1 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Ghee 1 tsp
Jaggery Powder 2 tbsp
Fresh Coconut grated 1 cup
Jaggery Powder 1/2 cup
Black Pepper Powder 1/2 tsp
Cashew nuts 2 tbsp finely chopped
Cardamom powder 1 tsp
Mix rawa and water in a deep heavy bottom sauce pan. Add in salt, ghee and jaggery powder.
Crush fennel seeds in mortar and pestle and add to the above mixture.
Cook it on medium heat, stirring all the time to avoid lumps.
Cook until the dough starts leaving the sides of the pan and starts coming together as a ball.
Remove it on a plate and let it cool.
Once cool, grease your palms with ghee and knead it lightly to get a smooth dough.
In a non-stick pan add jaggery powder and coconut.
Cook till jaggery melts.
Mix in black pepper powder, cardamom powder and cashew nuts.
Keep it aside to cool.
Once both the dough and stuffing are cool enough to touch, divide them into ten portions each.
Grease your palms, flatten one portion of the dough place one portion of the stuffing on it.
Gently lift the sides and seal.
Press lightly to get a disc.
Repeat the process with the remaining portions.
Heat oil in a deep karahi, slide one pitha.
Keep the flame to medium, flip when the lower side turns brown. Remove on a kitchen towel when the other side has also turned brown.
Similarly fry rest of the pitha ,one at a time.
You can also bake them in an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer at 180 degrees Celsius for 5 minutes.
Lightly brush the pitha with ghee. Cook for 15- 18 minutes, till they are golden. Keep an eye after 15 minutes.
Flip the once after 8 minutes and brush the exposed side with ghee.