(NOTE FOR THE READERS WHO DO NOT KNOW ARISHA: Unfortunately Arisha is no beautiful lady in my neighborhood. It is one of the finest sweet dishes (Pitha in Oriya) made in Orissa. It is also made throughout South India but with different names).
Arisha Pitha has been my favorite sweet dish from my childhood days. It was not made in my home. So I had to rely on my friends and neighbors and eagerly waited for some festival to come by. However Arisha Pitha could be preserved for quite some time without the intervention of refrigeration. (There was no fridge those days, anyway). Therefore the supply was almost continuous in between festivals too. My neighbors loved me as a little kid and most of the time I used play in their courtyard. So when I used to get tired or pretended to be tired, I would get Arisha and may other pithas immediately to gain energy.
It has been always in my mind to make Arisha someday. You may ask what is so great about this pitha or sweet? Well I dont have the answer, in fact some people ,( my friends) never liked it beyond a bite or two. I just like it, and may be the childhood memories are playing a great role in this. Arisha is kind of obsession ( Joonoon) for me, one of my magnificent obsessions.
Dates with Arisha in the past had been disastrous. Either it came out too hard to bite or just disintegrated while frying. I am now doing lot of research to produce some thing which will be close to the one which lingers in my memory. ( I frequently receive consignments of Karnataki version of Arisha here in India or abroad, it is tasty but different and made of Sugar mainly. It obviously lacks the aroma of fried Jaggery base.)
It is very difficult to make, simply because it is based fully on cooking skill , which one can only acquire by participating in the making process and with a skilled persons ( like Mom, Grand Mom etc). So in absence of this, I am trying it out by talking to experts and reading.
After doing lot of research on internet I came across many publications but most were copied and pasted from one another. I took some ideas from my Boudi in Bangalore and Vijaya in Bhubaneswar, both are experts. The normal guidance was " come here we will make for you and teach you too, dont waste time trying on your own etc".
The other day I came across one recipe at " homeoriyafood.blogpost,", which referred to Mom's method and not the blogger's. Well that was it, some thing real!!. It contained some key processes and had come from an experienced person. But it was not enough , as I said one had to participate in the making to perfect it.
So I decided to try it out based on the blog and with some possible conference call to Bangalore and Bhubaneswar, in case I was in trouble.
The ingredients are only three. But there were too many information about the ratio of ingredients. So I decided to stick to the proportion in homeoriyafood blog..
1. Rice 2 cups
2. Jaggery 2 Cups. ( Sugar doesn't give the true flavor of Arisha)
3. Water 1 cup ( I had information for using 1/4th cup to 2 cups, it was a big trouble to decide with such wide variations.!!!)
4. Oil/ Ghee to fry ( approx 2 cups )
1. Wash and soak rice for 3-4 hrs, drain and air dry on a cloth or paper to remove adhered moisture.
2. Grind the rice in a grinder. The powder should not be too fine. ( It should be mostly close to Suji ( semolina) and some fine powder is OK.)
3. Crush Jaggery lump to small chunks and major 2 cups. ( Crushing to small chunks gives good measurement)
4. Take a thick bottom Kadai , add water 1 cup and the jagery, slowly heat to make a solution.
5. Start boiling the solution to foaming. Feel the stickiness without burning finger. ( This stickiness part is tricky to assess and must see some one doing it. I used an old method, I put 1/2 spoon of boiling Jaggery in a cup of cold water to see it was not dispersing in water and one could hold the sticky mass and feel).
Boiling Jaggery being sampled
6. Start adding Rice flour to the mix slowly and stir continuously.
7. Continue stirring as the mix thickens. This a tricky step. I didn't know when to stop. It remains quite fluid as it is very hot. Last time when the dough was formed it became a hard mass after cooling and could not do any thing further). So at the end I started taking out small portion and cooled fast to see if it remained a dough fit for shaping.
The Dough in the making , when should I stop ??
8. The dough would stop sticking , switch off burner and allow to cool .
9. Make round shapes like puri about 7 to 8 mm thick ( even thicker) and 3 to 4 inch in diameter. You may sprinkle rashi ( sesame ) to give a nice aroma, which goes well with Jaggery.
Shaped Arisha ready for frying
9. Heat Ghee or oil in a Kadhai, thick bottom.
10. Fry the Pitha both sides under very low heat. It will turn dark brown because of Jaggery.
11. The Arisha was quite tasty and finished too.
11. The Arisha was quite tasty and finished too.
Arisha being fried, ( Oh! Poor dear!!)
The pitha looks darker because Jaggery and it was difficult to control heat. Next time I would take a bigger Kadhai and fry 3-4 at a time to control heat.
Ready to eat
Many thanks to homeoriyafood.blogspot.com, Sm. Vijaya Nath, and Sana Bhauja for the recipe, useful tips and encouragement.
More research and a practical training
Dear Arisha , sorry I could not live up to your full expectation this time. But trust me I will make it up during our future dates. Will miss you really...