The different states in India have their own signature sweets. Owing to the diversity that flourishes in each region alike, almost every region in India celebrates a culture of their own. Pedda Kaja or the Tapeswaram Kaja are two such varieties of dessert that are deeply celebrated in the states of Andhra and Telangana both.
Kaja, as it is called in the Telugu states is known as ‘Khaja’ in the northern states. It is essentially a layered pasty that is soaked generously in sugar syrup. It is crispy, juicy, and crunchy at the same time. The history of this sweet is just as divine as it’s taste.
Perhaps due to its heavenly taste and texture, the origin of this sweet has been claimed by many. It is till date unknown as to where this sweet originated from. There are claims that this sweet originated during the Maurya dynasty whose manuscripts contain a number of mentions of this divine treat made with wheat. This delicacy has been mentioned in both Rigveda and Arthashastra too. In the latter, it has been called the food of ‘power sustenance’ by the mighty Chanakya.
Few other stories of its origin include stories from travelers and culinary explorers of the yesteryears. Some travelers have compared it to Baklava which is a famous middle eastern based dessert whose texture is similar to that of Kaja/Khaja. Some other archaeologists have claimed that the Kaja was a popular street food in the Vikramaditya era.
While all of that maybe true, the Kaja of Andhra Pradesh is made with thicker sheets of pastry that are generally harder. It is made out of wheat flour, maida, oil and sugar syrup. The Kaja of Andhra Pradesh is deep fried until crisp and has a distinct taste of its own. It is extremely popular in the coastal region of Andhra. The Kaja is dry from the outside and juicy from the inside.
Although there are variations of this famous sweet and you can get a variety of Kajas all over the nation, there is just something unique about Tapeswaram Kaja. The entire popularity of city of Tapeswaram is based upon the Kaja and other special sweets like Pootharekulu and Bobbatlu. The Kaja from here is emerged out of a city whose people make sweets throughout their lifetime. There is just something magical about the layered fritters of goodness that emerge out of this sweet city.
With a considerable amount of history, dynasty and variety associated, the Kaja is one of the oldest recipes of the country that has been bettered over time. The royalty of this sweet however, remains true to its core. It is sophisticated yet simple at the same time. It is the perfect amalgamation of texture, consistency and taste. It is a recipe that culinary enthusiasts, chefs and the common people deeply adore yet it is one that is extremely difficult to master. Admirably, the city of Tapeswaram has mastered this art of Kaja which has been an ever-perennial vocation to its populace.
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