Agra ka PethaThe feather in the cap of incredible India, a place that everyone, who is a citizen as well as not an Indian, has in his list of “must visit” destinations is the glorious Agra.
The richness of the country’s heritage, the archaeological marvels and the splendor of the Taj is how one describes this otherwise modest but famous city on our map.
Petha in Agra
The ‘Taj’ and ‘Petha’ are two words that come to our mind when one speaks about Agra. Petha an absolute delight for the sweet tooth – it is said that the original recipe came from the kitchen of Emperor Shah Jahan. A popular Indian sweet made from ash gourd (winter melon or white pumpkin) which is a soft chewy thing coated in thick sugar syrup. Translucent and rectangle in shape in appearance, with a hard crusty exterior but juicy and delicious from inside is how I would want to describe it. The recipe is simple yet a little time consuming. Much to our surprise the gourd for the Petha is brought from Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra but the expertise required for making the sweet is local.
It’s made after chopping the gourd in small rectangle pieces soaking it in alum water and kept for 5-7 hours, after that its drained and boiled in water till soft and cooked well, later soaked into thick sugar syrup till it is coated with a thick sugar layer, finally dried and refrigerated makes it ready to pop in your mouth. Nutritionists say that although high in sugar, this juicy sweet is nourishing and cheap, and low on fat.
Needless to say there are variations and combinations available in flavors of the original preparation with this yummy sweet going high on popularity over the years. E.g. kesar petha, angoori petha, kanchacheena petha, chocolate petha and many more. Some different variations are content related, having a filling of either coconut or nuts into it. There are times when kewda essence is utilized to flavor petha too. The list is endless.
One of the very famous and most reckoned Panchhi Petha House is the oldest chains of manufacturing and exporting petha in the city. Other well-known stores in the city are Sri Dauji mishtan, Bhimsain BaidyaNath, Bikanervala, Munnalal Petha, Gopaldas, Deviram, Kamla Nagar and Ajanta Sweets. More than 700 small and big manufacturing units, employing over 50,000 workers make the Agra’s Petha Industry, producing 700 to 800 tons of Petha each day. In the heart of the city these units are located in the Noorani Gate area.
Talking about the price 1 kg of Petha ranges from Rs.90 to 250 keeping variety and choice of flavor as a criteria the petha is all-time favorite export item to countries over the globe.
Keeping in mind the traditional aspect, the manufacturers of Petha in the city are also not ignorant to the fact that the modern consumer is getting extremely health conscious each day. “Customers’ feedback” is the crucial focus when new varieties are being thought of by the sweet makers. The latest innovation on the shelf is "sugar-free petha". A special treat for the diabetic and diet conscious consumer to savor.
To square it up rarely do visitors to this city fail to pick up a packet or two of this divine Indian dessert.
Dalmoth of Agra
Another thing to die for the foodies is the famous spicy Dalmoth from Agra again. If you want to munch something crispy and crunchy with a cup of tea on winter days or something with a cool beer on a summer afternoon in Agra, you will go crazy over a snacky affair with this historic city. Agra offers Dalmoth, a traditional tongue-teasing dry snack which is nutted, spiced and full of fried lentils. This traditional namkeen will overwhelm your taste buds with a nice tangy and spicy flavor. It is available in prepackaged boxes on practically all sweet and namkeen shops big and small over the city. Panchhi Petha House sells one Kg. of Dalmoth ranging from Rs.180 to 350 depending on the variety of ingredients included in it.
For a great tea time snack pair it with tea or coffee, just crunchy enough to munch with a book in hand Agra Dalmoth is made of whole masoor dal, which goes with thin sev or can be garnished with fried cashew and other dry fruits.
All-in-all Dalmoth is a light tongue delighting snack. An exclusive exhibition of culinary expertise is displayed in the making of this crunchy and delicious snack.
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