VIJAYAWADA: The making of Pootharekulu, a popular sweet from the Godavari delta region of Andhra Pradesh, is set to get a make-over from its traditional process to a semi-mechanised process, benefiting the hundreds of families depending on making the signature dish of Athreyapuram village.
Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) of ANGRAU at Anakapalle bagged a patent for its mechanised system for preparing paper sweet (pootharekulu) films. The patent was issued on September 7 and it is the fourth patent received by Post-Harvest Technology and Engineering Centre, RARS, Anakapalli.
Speaking to TNIE, Dr PVK Jagannadha Rao, principal scientist (agricultural engineering) at the RARS, Anakapalle, who developed the semi-mechanised Pootharekulu machine along with Dr P Sreedevi, co-investigator in AICRP on Post-Harvest Technology and Engineering Centre, expressed happiness over bagging the patent for the project after a long time. “We applied for the patent in 2016 and we finally received it three days ago,” he said.
Jagannadha Rao, who earlier received three patents -- process patent on parboiled rice, process patent on granular jaggery and machinery patent on granular jaggery -- said he observed the traditional method of making the famous sweet in Athreyapuram and thought would not be better to use technology to make it without losing its uniqueness, at the same time, improve the production and profits earned from making the sweet.
He discussed his thoughts with his colleagues and visited the sweet makers once again with a prototype. Following their inputs and suggestions, the machine was modified and was submitted for patent. “After a long wait, we finally got it. Our machine, which runs on electricity, can now become operational and the sweet makers can earn more than what they are earning now,” he explained.
Traditionally, Potharekulu is made on an inverted clay pot over burning logs, which is a laborious process. The clay pot on which the rice sheets are made, is readied in three days. To smoothen the surface of the pot, for three days, it is alternately heated and wiped with a cloth dipped in oil.
To make the films, coarse rice is grounded for nearly two hours and made into a batter. This batter is then diluted, a thin cloth is dipped in the solution and put on the inverted pot with flame under it. The edible film forms on the pot instantly. The edible film is then wrapped with sugar and/or jaggery and coated with ghee.
“Now the same film can be made using our Pootharekulu machine under a hygienic and smoke-free environment. As against the traditional method, where 400 rice sheets are prepared per day, using the machine 1000 to 1,200 sheets can be prepared in eight hours, that is three times the traditional method,” Jagannadha Rao explained. According to him, the length of the films was double the size of the sheets produced in the traditional method and the thickness is the same in both the systems. The cost of the machine is Rs 35,000.