I have never quite been able to explain why Puri holds such a special place in my heart.
May be it’s the lazy languorous summer vacations spent in Puri as a child.
The first brush of a wide-eyed me with infinity, the arrogant vastness of space.
May be it’s the allure of the ageless expanse of the Bay of Bengal.
The symphony of sun and sand.
The gorgeous sunrises. An invisible genius frivolously painting the canvas of the heavens in splendid shades of crimson and scarlet.
Or the sublime full-moon nights. The pristine orb of a luminous orange moon arising from a Stygian dark sea.
(It’s much later though that I fell prey to the beguiling seduction of new moon nights in Puri.
A haunting world of ebony darkness, cradled by a million pin-prick diamonds above.
And the shimmering-silver phosphorescent crest of the waves, wave after wave lashing the earth with the monotonous frequency of a beating heart.)
Or may be it’s the magnetic charm of the Lord.
The imposing ancient temple, the stunning architecture, the awe-inspiring ambience of the holy precincts.
Whatever the reason might be, Puri continues to beckon me even to this day.
To return to the Lord.
The narrow alleys. Where cycle rickshaws and cows jostle for that last available square-inch of space.
The delectable prasadam at the temple.
Or the to-die-for chenna pora at the numerous nondescript sweet shops that dot the town.
Or the poda pitha that is guaranteed to make your taste buds dance in blissful ecstasy !!
Poda Pitha. The fragrance of rice. The earthiness of urad dal. The mellow sweetness of coconut. The warmth of ginger. The fire of pepper. Baked to a sublime perfection. Divine !!
- 1 cup gobindobhog rice soaked for overnight
- 3/4 cup skinless urad dal soaked for overnight
- 3/4 cup jaggery grated
- 1/3 cup milk
- 4 tbsp raisins soaked in water and drained
- 1 cup freshly grated coconut
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced coconut
- 2 tsp ginger grated
- 1 tbsp black pepper powder freshly ground
- 4.5 tbsp ghee
- 3/4 tsp green cardamom powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- banana leaves
- Grind the rice to a medium coarse paste with just a splash of water.
- Grind the dal to a fine paste, again with just a splash of water.
- Take the rice and dal paste in a mixing bowl, add a sprinkle of salt, allow to ferment, some 4-6 hrs.
- Add all the other ingredients to the mixing bowl, drizzle 4 tbsp of ghee, give it all a hearty mix.
- Preheat the oven to 180•C.
- Layer the ramekins with banana leaves, grease with a little ghee.
- Pour the batter into the ramekins till about 2/3rd full. Garnish with coconut slivers.
- Bake for 30 odd minutes or till skewers come out clean.
- Brush the poda pithas with a little ghee, serve warm or at room temperature.