Dry Petha- A fruity dessert from the land of Taj Mahal

by Shanu Pande
January 26, 2021

Eating a bit of sweet after meals is heavenly, isn’t it?

Dry Petha - Singal's - Indian Grocery Store

Gulping a sweet dessert takes your mood to a heightened ecstasy. Today, we talk about a translucent Indian dessert made from the humble ash gourd or white pumpkin.

Dry Petha - Singal's - Indian Grocery Store

It is called Petha, a famous sweet from the northern part of India. Petha is a signature sweetmeat from Agra, the city of Taj Mahal.

For this reason, it is also known as Agra Petha. 

Dry Petha - Singal's - Indian Grocery Store

As with the other sweets, Petha has also undergone a creative transformation by food buffs. Now delicious varieties such as Angoori Petha, Saffron Petha, Paan Petha, Chocolate Petha, Coconut Petha, Cherry Petha, and many more are also available. These new varieties are delicate and softer as compared to the harder dry Petha.

Dry Petha - Singal's - Indian Grocery Store


Dry Petha - Singal's - Indian Grocery Store


The original dry Petha is a perfect balance of taste and purity as it only uses fruit and sugar as its ingredients. The sweet is prepared by soaking the peeled and deseeded white pumpkin in lime and alum water. The pumpkin pieces are then boiled in sugar syrup and flavored with either kewra or rose water.

Dry Petha - Singal's - Indian Grocery Store

However, it is not easy to prepare Petha, and it takes a lot of practice and patience to master a perfect Petha recipe.

Let’s explore the creation of this melt-in-your-mouth gooey treat-

The history of Petha dates back to almost 400 years. It is believed that the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had the best of Royal chefs in his kingdom. When he decided to build the iconic monument of love Taj Mahal in his wife Mumtaz Mahal’s memory, he employed 21,000 workers. And, it took 22 long years to build the Taj Mahal. To maintain his workers' energy levels, Shah Jahan wanted a sweet as pure and white as Taj Mahal. Hence, Petha, the candy dessert, was created by the royal chefs meticulously. Petha supplied the necessary sugary rush for the workers, and the rest is history.

Petha is best enjoyed with Agra dalmoth, a salty-spicy Namkeen mixture with dry fruits and gram flour.

Dry Petha - Singal's - Indian Grocery Store

Here is a quick peek into some benefits of Petha-

  • Petha is considered a pure sweetmeat because it has no butter, ghee, or oil. It is prepared using only fruit and sugar. It does not contain any synthetics.
  • It has a long shelf life and does not get spoilt quickly.
  • White pumpkin has loads of health benefits and is known to be beneficial for ulcers, gastritis, asthma, and cough.

Flavor of Petha

Dry Petha chunks are crispy hard outside with a syrupy moist interior. It has a chewy texture.

Next time you bite into the crunchy chunk of this fabled sweet, remember it’s tangible connection to the royal kitchens of the Mughal era. 

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