The Story of Petha

- December 26, 2023


By Zaara D’Souza

Petha is a famous sweet from Agra. Juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside, this delectable treat is made from white pumpkin (also known as winter melon or ash gourd), and soaked in rose sugar syrup to lend it a sweet, refreshing taste.

petha
Illustration: Tithee Dixit

As the story goes, it was first created by the Mughals chefs when Emperor Shah Jahan wanted a sweet that resembled the characteristics of the Taj Mahal — pure and white. The chefs boiled white pumpkin, serving it in rose sugar syrup or as dried sweet chunks. The petha served as a source of energy for the thousands of workers who toiled over the construction of the Taj Mahal. Agra’s Noori Gate area is home to over 700 cottage units that create this sweet, now served in many different flavors like cherry, orange, paan, coconut, and of course, rose, among others. 

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