Poda To Muan Pitha To Celebrate Odisha’s Raja Festival
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One of the most important festivals in Odisha, India, the Raja Festival is also known as Mithuna Sankranti. It is observed mostly in the state's more rural and agricultural areas. The event lasts for three days and focuses on honouring and celebrating womanhood as well as the agricultural fertility of the land. During the Raja Festival, women and girls enjoy a break from their normal routine to participate in a wide range of cultural activities, swings, and games. They put on their best, traditional garb, complete with brand-new garments and dazzling accessories. Women in rural areas often have access to swings, which they use to express their happiness and playfulness.  

The celebration has deep roots in farming customs. For farmers, the monsoon season officially begins on the first day, known as Pahili Raja. The primary event of the celebration takes place on the second day, Mithuna Sankranti, when people rejoice over the first rains of the season. On the third day, known as Basi Raja, guests relax and feast on regional specialties. 

Traditional cuisine cooked with local, in-season ingredients are a highlight of the Raja Festival, along with the many varieties of pithas (rice cakes) and sweets that are served.

Poda Pitha: This delectable dish is a traditional steamed cake that boasts a unique blend of fermented rice and lentil batter, infused with the rich flavours of jaggery and aromatic spices. 

Chakuli Pitha: Pancakes made from a batter of fermented rice and lentils, eaten with dalma (a meal made from a variety of lentils and vegetables) and chutneys. 

Mitha Puli: As a delicious dessert option, rice flour dumplings can be steamed or boiled after being stuffed with a sweet filling made of coconut and jaggery. 

Kakara Pitha: These delectable dumplings are expertly crafted using rice flour and then deep-fried to perfection. The filling is a harmonious blend of grated coconut, jaggery, and spices that creates a sweet and savoury flavour profile. 

Chhena Poda: This delectable dessert is a classic creation featuring fresh cottage cheese (chhena) blended with sugar and cardamom, then baked to perfection until achieving a luscious golden brown hue. 

Enduri Pitha: Enduri Pitha is a delectable delicacy that features a steamed pancake crafted from finely ground rice. The pancake is then stuffed with a luscious filling of sweet coconut and jaggery, which perfectly complements the subtle flavours of the rice. To add an extra layer of complexity to this dish, it is wrapped in turmeric leaves and steamed to perfection. The result is a mouthwatering treat that is sure to tantalise your taste buds. 

Here is a recipe for Muan Pitha by HomeChef Gouri Patra to celebrate the swing festival.  

Recipe: Put urad dal in water for four or five hours. Prepare a paste by washing, grinding, and storing the ingredients for 4–5 hours, or overnight, on the kitchen counter for fermentation. Incorporate the ragi flour into the mixture and thoroughly combine the ingredients. 

Begin by heating a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the jaggery and allow it to melt slightly. To prevent the jaggery from burning, you may add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Incorporate the coconut into the mixture and roast until it is evenly coated. Once the dish is almost done, it's time to add the crushed cardamom and black pepper. Make sure to turn off the heat before doing so. The following day, incorporate salt into the fermented batter and vigorously whisk in a unidirectional manner for a duration of 5 minutes. Put some water in a container, then drape a cotton cloth over it and attach it with a string. Bring water to a boil over a stove. Half of the batter should be poured and spread gently over the damp cloth, followed by a layer of the coconut jaggery mixture, and then the remaining batter should be poured and distributed over the top. Proceed to steam for 15 to 20 minutes. Put a knife in there and see if it comes out clean; if it does, the pitha is done. Cut the pitha into pieces of the desired size after turning off the stove and transferring it gently to a dish. 

Different regions in Odisha refer to Muan Pitha by a variety of other names, including Sijha Pitha, Chauti Manda, and Muan Enduri. Odisha is famous for its many temples, as well as its many festivals and the Pithas that accompany them.