Agra has thousands of visitors on a daily basis. Some are looking for the charming Taj Mahal while others for its traditional sweet, the petha. If you are an ardent foodie then you cannot leave the city without sinking your teeth into the sweet and melting petha that has been popular since the Mughal era. The earliest petha was made in the royal kitchens during the rule of Emperor Shah Jahan. The sweetmeat is made from ash gourd or winter melons mixed with water and sugar syrup.
How the petha culture started
According to food historians agra ka petha was possibly founded sometime while the Taj Mahal was still under construction. The story goes that the emperor was disturbed because the workers were bored of eating dal and roti every day after the back-breaking hard work. When he shared the concern with Ustad Isa Effendi, the master architect, he was equally troubled and shared the same with Pir Naqshbandi Sahib. The Pir possibly got the recipe in his dream from the God. Almost 500 cooks were taught the recipe and thus started the traditional petha of Agra.
Petha now is an extremely famous sweet meat and people try to pick the most authentic and best variety available. With test over the years almost 50 different varieties have been created which range from coconut, angoori, almond, orange, chocolate, pineapple, cherry and more. The first person to popularize the petha in and around Agra was Seth Panchram Lal Goyal also known as Panchhi among his friends. He started his business almost 70 years ago. Now several other stores have also come up which sell petha across the city.
Why you must eat petha
Ash gourd is cool for the body and a good digestive agent. Owing to its cooling nature this sweet should be avoided in case you have cough and cold. It contains calcium, iron, Vitamins B, A, C, E and also sulphur and protein. Around 100 grams of petha will have 34 grams of protein. Other benefits of eating petha include:
- Petha is helpful in reducing rashes, boils and pimples.
- People suffering from asthma can control their breathing problem with the help of petha juice.
- The phosphorus and calcium content in petha aids in making bones stronger.
- In case you are suffering from kidney stones or urinary tract problems eating pethas can be quite helpful.
- It is also helpful for controlling bleeding from any particular body part like the gums or nose owing to the imbalance in body temperature can be controlled with the help of petha.
- For those with weight related problems petha juice is extremely helpful. The appetite can be cured by replacing tea and coffee with petha juice.
Petha in the form of a sweet as well as a drink is hugely beneficial to the human body. The alkaline nature of this traditional sweet is great for the health and digestive system. Even though many other types of petha are being made, nothing can beat the taste of the true white petha of Agra.