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The word petha conjures up an image of a crystallised rectangular or cylindrical soft candy – oozing with sweetness. Loved by both young and old, this traditional mithai or dessert is loaded with sugar and is eaten with gusto by those who have a penchant for all things sweet. Petha is a translucent, soft candy that can be found all over North India. Originally prepared with ash gourd, this sweet now has many varieties made from different vegetables or fruits. Traditionally, the vegetable is peeled, boiled, deseeded, and then cooked in sugar syrup which is sometimes flavoured with rose water. There are two main ways of serving petha – dried or dripping wet with sugar syrup. The dry variety has a much longer shelf life than the wet one.
Petha is said to have been first made in Agra in the royal kitchen of Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal emperor. Another story goes that Noor Jahan, the consort to Jahangir and one of the most influential women of the Mughal empire, once asked her convoy to stop at the petha market in Agra. She was so enamoured by its taste that she asked the cooks of the royal kitchen to serve it at the Agra Fort after adding some special touches.
This mithai is often called ‘God’s sweet’ by the locals. There are now more than 700 cottage units that produce this delicacy, which is bought by tourists and dessert lovers around the world. It is probably the third biggest attraction in Agra after the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort. Many halwais or mithai makers around the country have started preparing this sweet since its popularity has soared all over the world. Undoubtedly the best petha is made in Agra and it is covered under a Geographical Indication (GI) label to certify its origin.
Petha is made out of three basic ingredients – vegetables, sugar, and water. All you need is some seasonal vegetable or fruit. To make this dessert, you need some alum or fitkari, kitchen lime, and flavours such as rose water and kewra (screw pine essence). Saffron is added for an exotic flavour and colour. Both the alum and the kitchen lime are dissolved separately in water. The desired fruit or vegetable is washed, peeled, deseeded, and then cut into one-inch square pieces. The pieces are pricked all over with a fork to enable them to absorb the syrup easily. They are then soaked in the lime water for about half an hour and then rinsed with running water. After this, the pieces are soaked in the alum water. They are then drained after a while. These drained pieces of fruit or vegetable are then boiled in a heavy bottomed pan till they become soft and transparent. In a separate pan, sugar is dissolved in water and brought to a boil till the syrup reaches a two-thread consistency. The boiled fruits or vegetables are then added to the syrup and boiled until the syrup becomes thick. This is taken off the fire and let to cool. The next day, the syrup is boiled again and the pieces are added back into the syrup. This is cooked for about four minutes. Rosewater or kewra is sprinkled on the pieces for flavour. This is then allowed to cool. The petha is now ready to be served and enjoyed.
Petha is said to have a cooling effect on one’s system. Many people will advise you to avoid eating them if you have fever, cold, cough, or a sinus infection. Petha juice is 100 per cent alkaline and is believed to be beneficial. One variety of petha, the safed petha, contains iron, calcium, sulphur, proteins, as well as vitamins A, B, C, and E. Diabetics and health freaks need to watch out as these sweets are loaded with sugar.
Petha is available in many astounding flavours, types and sizes. You can choose from the plain petha which is white in colour, or look for the yellow saffron variety. If you are in the mood for a gastronomic adventure, ask the shopkeeper for the multi-coloured and flavoured ones, which are softer in texture. There are chocolate and vanilla petha too, among many flavours and essences available.
Be careful when you shop for petha. Many shops in the market sell inferior petha to gullible buyers. Pick your sweets only from recognised shops and manufacturers.
Has all this talk of petha tickled your senses? Do you want to pop these sugary mithai into your mouth and satiate your longing for an unlimited sugar hit? Look no further. SaleBhai comes to your rescue. We offer you a wide variety of quality petha from well-known and established mithai makers. Now you do not need to wait for someone to travel all the way to Agra to get your sweet fix. All you have to do is click a few buttons and these sweets will be on their way to you, safely delivered and at the most reasonable prices.
Log on to SaleBhai and take your pick from the many varieties we have in store for you. Choose between Kesar Angoori Pethas or Agra Petha from Sangam Sweets, Bangalore or browse at your leisure and take a pick from the list of petha available.
You can add dry petha, rose petha, angoor petha, chocolate petha, coconut petha, or mango-saffron petha to your to-order list. These are some of the best-known petha available. While ordering for these sweets, just check if they are dry or served gooey with the sugar syrup. Also, look at the shelf life of the petha you order. They mostly come with a shelf life of about 15 days, depending on the ingredients and the manufacturer.
You can now order your preferred petha from any part of the country without having to worry about its quality and authenticity. SaleBhai offers you an inexhaustible list of sweets and desserts at the most competitive prices – sourced from the country’s most established and renowned manufacturers. Place your order now!