(Adapted from Loving Bangladeshi Kitchen: Bibikhana Pitha)
In Bengal, the time period between mid December to mid-January is known as the Poush maash. Poush calls for bitterly cold, misty mornings, when you want to snuggle inside your quilt for a bit longer and enjoy lazy mornings. This is also the season of Puli-pitha for every Bengali; specific types of desserts prepared with rice flour, jaggery and grated coconut.
Growing up in New Delhi, I was technically known as a "Probashi Bangali". But, thanks to my grandparents I never missed out on any of our rituals that are generally celebrated in Bengal. About the mid of Poush, my paternal grandmom (whom I used to call Amma) used to say to my mom " Bouma, bajaar thika ektu gur aar narkol aanba (Bouma, get some jaggery and coconut from the market)". On hearing these words, my heart used to dance a jig with joy because good food was in the offing. Under my Amma's and Maa's nimble fingers delectable paatishapta, dudh puli, rosh bora, and bhapa puli used to be prepared. The whole house used to waft with delicious flavours and me and my granddad used to rub our hands with glee in anticipation of these delicious sweets. My mom used to prepare a mean gurer payesh, which was the icing on the cake.
As for me, I am always pretty scared to prepare Puli-pitha on my own because I feel that I do not have the expertise needed for these delicate sweets. However, when the Kolkata Food Bloggers, launched an event of preparing Puli-pitha for Poush, I cast my fears aside and decided to give it a try.
This Pitha which I have made is called Bibikhana pitha. This pitha is the specialty of Bangladeshi cuisine. Since my ancestors belonged to the "Opar Bangla" (I am a Bangaal married to a Ghoti), I decided to try a recipe of my original homeland.
The beauty of this Pitha is that it can be baked in the oven. Alternatively, you can steam bake it in the pressure cooker. But since I love baking, so decided to crank up my oven to do the job. I found the recipe here.
Rice flour: 2 cups
Coconut (grated): 1 cup
Sugar/Jaggery: 1 cup (This makes the dish mildly sweet. Add more as per taste.)
Powder milk/Dairy whitener: 3/4th cup
Ghee: 3/4th cup
Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp
Water: 1 cup
Raisin, chopped cashewnuts, and pista: a handful (for decoration)
1. Mix powdered jaggery with 1 cup water. Heat over low flame, stirring time to time, so that all the jaggery is dissolved in the water. Keep aside.
2. Heat 1 tsp of ghee in a non-stick pan and fry the rice flour for 2-3 minutes.
3. In a deep-bottom pan, mix the rice flour, jaggery mixture, four eggs (beaten well in advance), grated coconut, 3/4th cup ghee, milk powder, and cardamom powder.
4. Mix well till you get a thick batter with no lumps. I used my stand mixer. Next, grease an oven proof pie dish and pour the batter into the pie dish.
5. Pre-heat the oven for 10 minutes at 100 degrees C. Yes, you got it right! This Pitha is baked at the lowest temperature. The original recipe called for a temperature of 200 degrees F.
6. Place the pie-dish in the oven and let it bake for 1 hour. Alternatively, you can steam bake it in a pressure cooker for 1.5 hours. This Pitha is the epitome of slow cooking!
7. Once the top surface feels firm, take the pie dish out of the oven. Insert a toothpick in the Pitha. If the toothpick does not come out clean, or the top surface feels wet, pop it in the oven for 5-10 inutes more at the same temperature.
|Just out of the oven|
8. Cool to room temperature and de-mold the Pitha. Cut into diamond shapes or any shape you like!
9. Decorate with raisins, cashews, and pista. I used only raisins.
10. My hubby added some grated coconut on top. Chill in the fridge and serve.
I am sending this post for the KFB event: Poush Sonkranti delicacies.