This post is about 5 months too late. When we visited Delhi-Agra-Jaipur during Chinese New Year, this is one thing I definitely wanted to buy back - Panchhi Petha. Its nothing but cubed ash gourd simmered in sugar syrup and cooled down. Its extremely sweet and juicy when bitten into.
When I went to the same places while in school, we gorged on this super sweet Agra specialty without even knowing what it is or how its made (not that it mattered, especially at that age). I had forgotten whether its available in Jaipur or Agra so during our first stop which was at Jaipur, I asked our guide about it. He had absolutely no clue what we were talking about!
When we came to Agra, our guide immediately cut us short when we began explaining what we were looking for and took us straight to the very popular store called Panchhi which is probably one of the best places that sells "original" petha.
When we were at the railway station waiting for our train back to Delhi, I chanced upon Vanitha in a bookstore and it was a freakish coincidence because that edition had a bit about Lakshmi Nair (the now famous cook that comes in some shows in Asianet) visiting Agra and even a recipe for Agra Petha! I am reproducing it here, in English.
Agra Petha Recipe
Source: Vanitha, Feb 1-14 2011 Edition
500gm ash gourd / kumbalanga
Water as needed
1 tsp slaked lime / chunnambu
Saffron strands, optional
1. Peel and deseed ash gourd and cut into cubes.
2. Add the slaked lime to 2 litres of water and mix well. Add the ash gourd pieces into this and set aside for 2 hours.
3. Rinse the soaked ash gourd 2-3 times in clean water. Poke each piece a few times with a fork.
4. Boil the sugar with 1 cup water. When it begins to thicken, add the ash gourd pieces (and saffron if using) and bring to boil, then simmer for 3-4 mins.
5. Drain from the syrup and lay to cool and dry on a flat plate.