Jagannath Mahaprasad- Khaaja/ Pheni, Gaja
My blog turns one today!! Happy birthday Slices ‘n Spices!! As cliché as it may sound, I have to thank all you wonderful people who were a part of my wonderful first year of culinary journey. Its also the grace of God that I am celebrating this special day on a very auspicious occasion of Rath yatra!! Jagannath Rath Yatra is a major festival for odiya people. This annual spectacle which marks the visit of Lord Jagannath ( an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra to their Aunt’s house – Gundicha temple is attended by lakhs of devotees every year. This year the event is all the more special, as it is ‘nabakalebara’ which literally translated is naba-new, kalebara– body. During this once in 12 to 19 years event, the bodies of the idols are changed, transferring the ‘bramha’ or life of the old idols into new idols made freshly from wood of neem tree. This year the state administration is all geared up for this mega event, estimated to be attended by around 25 lakh devotees from all over the world.
Four hallowed shrines located at cardinal points of the Indian sub-continent i.e. Puri, Rameswar, Dwarika and Badrinath are believed to have been liked by Lord Vishnu intimately. It is said and believed that He takes His bath at Rameswaram, meditates at Badrinath, dines at Puri and retires at Dwarika. Hence, the temple food “Mahaprasad” (not simply prasad) at Puri is held to be of supreme importance. ( source wiki ).
Lord jagannath is served 56 varieties of bhog/ Maha Prasad, hence also named Chappan bhogi. The Lord is offered food at six different muhurtas (auspicious time).The sukha/dried mahaprasad is called ‘nirmalya’, also has a lot of relevance. It is preserved in every odiya household and offered on auspicious occasion like birth, naming ceremony, thread ceremony engagement, marriage etc. Even at the time of death, the nirmalya and holy basil (Tulsi) with water is poured on the tongue and throat of the imminent deceased persons with the belief that by taking these items after their death their soul will remain in peace . ( source google)
Carrying forward the principles of ‘Vasudeva kutumbakam’ meaning the whole world is a family, is the concept of ‘Mahaprasad Bandhu’. Partaking a pinch of this offering , two persons from different castes and creeds can be mahaprasad bandhus ( friends of mahaprasad) forgetting all age old social, schism and personal hostility. Mahaprasada bandhu, who is a friend with whom friendship is pledged on sharing of mahaprasad.
- Maida- 500gm+ 50 gm (roughly 2 tablespoons)
- Refined oil- 100ml ( roughly ½ cup)+ extra for deep frying
- Maida- 500gm
- Refined oil- 100ml + extra for deep frying
- Baking soda- ½ teaspoon
- Sugar- 1 kg
- water- 250 ml ( around 1 to 1.5 cup)
The procedure for preparing the dough is same for both pheni and gaja.
- Mix in 50 ml (around 1/4 cup) oil in ½ kg all purpose flour, rub the flour till it is well coated with oil.
- Slowly add water tablespoon by tablespoon, to make a tight dough ( tighter than chapatti dough)
- Using a rolling pin, flatten the kneaded dough , slightly thicker than a chapatti.
- Make a paste of 50 ml oil+ 50 gm maida (roughly 2 tablepsoons), spread this paste uniformly over the rolled dough.
- Starting from longer side, start rolling the flat chapatti .
- Cut into 2 inch pieces.
- flatten it slightly with palm, using a rolling pin again roll it into uniform stripes. They should be of uniform thickness.
- Meanwhile heat oil in a wok, take care not to heat it till fuming hot. The oil should be medium hot .
- On low flame leave the flattened strips slowly into the oil, frying and turning them in between. All through the process the flame should be low. Frying till golden brown may take 15-18 minutes.
- Take them out on kitchen napkin to drain off the excess oil. Allow them to cool.
- Mix in baking soda and 100 ml of oil in ½ kg flour, rub till the flour is nicely coated with oil.
- Adding little water, make a tight dough similar to that of pheni.
- Make a big ball, and roll it into a slab of around 2 inches thick.
- Using a knife, cut square pieces and deep fry them in moderately hot oil on low flame, until they turn golden brown.
- note: the gajas are very delicate and need to be turned few times while frying. Do it with a knife, delicately , not with big spatulas.
- All through the frying process the flame should be low, otherwise the khaja and gaja won’t cook inside properly.
- Melt 1 kg sugar in 2 cups of water over medium flame, keep stirring in between.
- Check the consistency of syrup in between, it should come to one string consistency when pressed between thumb and index finger.
- Once the string consistency is achieved, switch off the flame.
- Leave the pheni and gaja into the syrup for soaking, using a spatula take them out after draining excess syrup.
- Pack in airtight containers, they store well for long time.