- Drained Curdled Milk (Chenna) – 500gms
- Thick Cream (Malai) – 50gms (1/4Cup) Or….
- Unsalted Butter – 25gms (At Room Temperature)
- Semolina – 25gms (2Tbsps)
- Sugar – 150gms (1/2Cup + 1/8Cup)
- Cardamoms – 7
- Baking Powder – 3/4tsp
First we need to drain water from curdled milk. Place a sieve in a bowl and spread a thin cloth in it. Add the curdled milk along with water into the lined sieve. Gather the edges of the cloth and form a bundle. Press the cloth bundle to strain water from the curdled milk. But take care not to drain the entire water from the curdled milk---chenna when pressed between fingers there should be some moisture left in it. Measure 500gms of drained chenna and keep it aside.
To make podo peetha I have used a loose bottomed round cake tin. Take parchment paper and fold it in the middle twice to form a square piece. Then fold it again in the middle to form a triangle. Again fold it to form a narrow triangular piece. Take the plate of the cake tin. Place the tip of the narrow triangular shaped parchment paper in the centre of the plate and hold it firmly. Now cut the excess portion of parchment paper which comes out of the plate. Cut the parchment paper along the edge of the plate to get a curved cut. Now place the plate back in the tin and spread the cut parchment paper in it and observe that it exactly fits the bottom of the tin. Add some ghee in the cake tin and smear at the bottom and on the sides. Place the parchment paper and add ghee on it and smear to coat well. Place this cake tin in a baking tray for easy handling as the bottom of the cake tin is loose.
Take cardamoms and crush in a mortar using pestle. Separate seeds and powder the seeds to a fine powder using mortar and pestle. Take the cardamom powder into a plate and cover with another plate to retain the aroma till use.
Here I am using OTG (Oven-Toaster-Grill) to make the chenna podo peetha. Preheat oven at 200oC on Top-Bottom-Fan mode.
Take a mixing bowl and add drained curdled milk and knead till soft without lumps. When the kneaded chenna is soft to touch then add cream. If chenna is made using full cream milk then skip adding cream. Also if cream is not available replace it with 25gms of room temperature butter. Then add semolina and mix till cream and semolina are well incorporated in the mixture. Then add sugar and mix well. Knead the mixture till sugar fully dissolves in it. By the time sugar dissolves in the mixture chenna would be kneaded to the right texture. Then add cardamom powder and mix. Then finally add baking powder and mix well. remember to add baking powder only just before baking. Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin and level it with fingers. Carefully place the tray in preheated oven and bake at 200oC on Top-Bottom-Fan mode till the mixture rises. Meanwhile take a plate which is sufficiently big enough to cover the cake tin. Add some ghee on the plate and smear well.
After 30 minutes observe that the mixture starts rising in the cake tin. After 45 minutes of baling the mixture rises to the top. Then cover the cake tin with the prepared plate and bake at 200oC only on Top-Bottom-Fan mode.
After baking for 1 1/2 hours remove the plate and observe that the mixture is evenly browned from all sides and appears as a baked cake. Also observe that the podo peetha appears somewhat loose to hold its shape. Now switch the oven knob to bottom mode and bake covered for 30 minutes at 200oC. When done, carefully remove the tray from oven wearing mittens. Observe that in total we have baked the chenna podo peetha for 2 hours. Remove the plate and test the podo peetha for doneness. Insert a toothpick and check---if the toothpick comes out clean then podo peetha is done---if chenna mixture sticks to the toothpick then bake for few more minutes. Let the podo peetha remain in the cake tin for a while. Then lift the bottom plate of the cake tin and place it on a wire rack and cool for some time. Place a serving plate on the podo peetha and invert. Carefully remove the cake tin plate and parchment paper. Cool the podo peetha completely or else it would be difficult to cut into pieces. Cut the chenna podo peetha into sectors and serve. Even if it takes two hours to make this dish it would still be tempting to make it again and again for its delicious taste. This podo peetha tastes better when it is fresh. As the quantities shown to make the podo peetha are not that huge a family can easily consume it in a day. But for whatever reasons if needed to refrigerate, then warm it in microwave oven before serving for better taste. Chenna podo peetha is Oriya sweet dish. Podo means burnt. The outer portion of the podo peetha would appear burnt leaving the inner portion soft---and the combination gives the special taste. If more sugar is added in the mixture then darker the outer color would be as the color is obtained when sugar caramelizes. Serve fresh and enjoy this delicious treat.
Points To Observe:
Drain most of the water from the curdled milk but retain some so that the mixture doesn’t appear dry. If more water is left in the chenna then the podo peetha would not get baked to a firm texture. If less water is left in chenna then also we won’t get the right texture. After pressing the chenna in the cloth water should not be dripping but a portion of chenna when pressed between fingers should feel moist.
Adding cream or butter gives a nice texture and taste to the sweet. I have made chenna using milk from which cream is removed---so I have added cream in the mixture. If chenna is made using full cream milk then one can avoid adding extra cream. If cream is not available add unsalted butter which is at room temperature to get the same effect.
Semolina gives the grainy texture and it also helps in absorbing excess moisture from the chenna.
The chenna mixture rises while baking when baking powder is added—it helps in evenly baking the podo peetha.
Preheating oven is very important to maintain the temperature as remember we are adding baking powder and it reacts instantly.
Kneading chenna to a soft texture is important. Knead till there are no lumps and the chenna feels soft when pressed between fingers.
Add sugar and knead the mixture till sugar dissolves completely---that is the right calculation. By the time sugar dissolves in the mixture chenna turns sufficiently soft---to the right texture. So do not try to add sugar powder for easy mixing then one cannot gauge as to how much time one needs to knead the mixture.
Once the chenna mixture rises to the top and some brown pecks appear on the top surface, cover the cake tin and bake or else the top portion dries up.
Check the doneness of the podo peetha as we do in case of a normal cake that is using a toothpick. If toothpick comes out clean then podo peetha is done and if not then bake for some more time.
Serve the podo peetha fresh without refrigerating. Refrigerating the podo peetha makes it slightly hard. So if refrigerated then warm it in microwave oven before serving.
Chenna podo peetha is oriya sweet dish. Podo means burnt. Sugar caramelizes and gives the burnt texture. Traditionally this dessert is made in clay ovens on low heat by wrapping chenna mixture with leaves to get the right heat. Till now in Orissa we find some shops where they make it traditionally---they keep it on low wood fire in the night and by morning the sweet would be ready.
Adding more sugar gives darker caramelized color and a thick outer skin to the dish---it is personal choice.
With the fragrance of cardamoms it tastes amazing---enjoy with your family and friends.
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