An Indian celebration is never complete without a big helping of sweets to mark the occasion. Every state has their own favourites of course just like every other aspect of our food culture but sometimes they play nice and decide to share. Anarsa is one of those sweets that breached the divide and has equal popularity primarily in Bihar and Maharashtra and a version of it called Arisa is also eaten in Orissa – although, in a fantastic plot twist, it was first conceived in Damarua village in Uttar Pradesh.

Though it's most often seen in connection with Diwali celebrations, it is made throughout the year as a deep-fried treat. The Anarsa is unique in that its main component is rice flour as opposed to wheat flour, sweetened with jaggery and often flavoured with banana and poppy seeds

Also Read: Indian Sweets That Have Bagged The GI Tag

To make it, the rice needs to be soaked in water for three days, dried in the sun or in a very low oven and then ground into a fine powder, traditionally in a flour mill. This is known as pithi and is often used in other dishes such as Bihar’s Dal Pithi, a rice flour pancake. The pithi is then mixed with an equal amount of sugar and can be stored for later just like any flour. The dough is created by mixing the pithi-sugar blend with ghee or sometimes even mashed banana into soft but firm balls that hold their shape. They’re then coated with poppy seeds and fried in hot ghee. In Bihar, they favour a slightly more rounded version whereas Maharashtrian Anarsa tends to be flatter.

Though they’re very popular in rural areas, cities tend not to see a lot of Anarsas in the market, but luckily, they’re fairly easy to make at home if you want to try this regional delicacy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Rice
  • 1 cup Castor sugar 
  • 3-4 tbsp Khus Khus /Poppy seeds for coating
  • Ghee for frying

Directions: 

  • Wash and soak the rice in enough water to cover it for 3 days. Change the water every day. On the 4th day, drain the rice and spread it on a colander.
  • After 1-2 hrs, grind this rice to a fine powder in a mixer.
  • Sieve the rice powder through a fine mesh and add the castor sugar.
  • Mix well and, 1 tbsp ghee and knead the mixture. 
  • Keep the dough covered for 1 day or so.
  • The next day take a plate or plastic sheet and sprinkle poppy seeds on it. 
  • Now pinch out a small portion from the dough and make small lemon size ball from it and press it lightly on the poppy seeds. 
  • Flatten the dough into a round disc. Apply some ghee to your hand if the dough sticks.
  • Meanwhile, heat 3-4 tbsp ghee in a frying pan on a medium flame.
  • Fry the Anarsa in ghee till it turns golden brown. 
  • Remove the Anarsa and drain the ghee. 
  • Cool down all the Anaarsa till they become crisp. Store it in an air-tight container.