Petha, the whitish soft candy is a invention of hard work and chefs dedication.
There is no dearth of variety of sweets that we see in our country, and the best part been that each sweet/ dessert is unique in its own way. Each sees a different texture, taste and even history. One such sweet is Petha, which is made ash gourd aka winter melon or white pumpkin. This sweet is known to have originated in the city of Agra which were once ruled by the Mughals. Visiting Agra and not having to try this sweet makes the trip incomplete as Petha that is almost found in very corner of the city and is omnipresent. As this sees fruit, sugar and water, it is considered as one of the purest dessert in the world. This sweet that also has gained a Geographical Indication (GI) tag so that the place of origin is certified, Petha is not at all cooked on a regular cooking fire, but only coal fire.
The story for this dessert goes like when Shah Jahan ruled Agra, and had asked his chefs to make something white and pure as the Taj, and the royal chefs worked much hard and came up with these new desserts that is now very famous the Petha. There is another story that goes which says that when the Taj was being build, due to the marble dust the workers were given jaggery cubes and then later on Shah Jahan asked his Royal chef to make some interesting sweet using jaggery and hence this sweet was born. This sweet being high on sugar also helped to provide some instant energy to the workers.
Petha, the whitish soft candy is a invention of hard work and chefs dedication. This affordable dessert is soaked in sugar syrup called chashni or is kept dried for a longer shelf life of the sweet. The sweets are dry from outer and is juicy and succulent from inside. The sweet is seen in translucent chunks. Chef Palash Ghosh, Executive Chef , Taj Hotel & Convention Centre, Agra adds “Pethas were originally prepared more than 350 years ago, slipping out of the Royal kitchen of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Petha is also known as winter melon. From then this surgery syrup sweet kept gaining popularity in agra. It has different shapes like rectangular, cylindrical, diced and extra. Here at our Hotel we are serving Angoori petha, paan petha, coconut petha, chocolate petha, kesri petha, and Honey petha. Petha is so popular that's why it is famous as Agra ka petha.”
Even till date in Agra’s Noori Gate area, there are sweet meats makers and some of the units are years old. There are 700 cottage units that have been churning this delicate sweet day after day. Today the sweet has seen many variations like cherry, orange, kesar petha (saffron), angoori petha (grapes), chocolate petha, pineapple, almond, grape, coconut, paan, khus and even chocolate. The most famous shop in Agra, Panchhi Petha alone sees more than 25 variants of petha.