Being a bong, probably I am one of the few lesser mortals who are not much interested in sweets. But, this time of the year, when the air is filled with nolen gur smell, its hard to not to adhere to the puli- pithe wave. And, here I am dedicating this post to Bengal’s gastronomic celebration- the poush-sankranti and hence the puli- pithe utsav.
What is all this fuss about ?
This time of the year, its the new harvest time in India. Hence, throughout India, this time, the harvesting is celebrated. Be it Lohri, be it Pongal- in West Bengal, we call it as poush-sankranti (considering the bengali month name). Poush sankranti is celebraed in bengal with পুলি ও পিঠে (puli and pithe) and পায়েস (payesh). The both are primarily bengali desserts- sometimes with stuffing. পিঠে / Pithes are primarily made from a batter of rice flour or wheat flour, which is shaped and optionally filled with sweet or savory ingredients. পুলি / puli is a variation of the same. Payesh is type of a rice pudding made with milk and broken rice or semiya and lots of other varieties.
Every year, certain types of puli-pithe is made in our home by my mother and wife. We’ll discuss below a few of the same. But, please be assured, this post will not discuss any of the recipes here (as I’m not much qualified), but, we’ll have a certain idea about what are they…
Ahhh, the quintessential queen-bee of the festival. The item which even the non-sweet-tooth person like me looouves. We normally have payesh at our place in 2 varieties. one of the payesh with orange flavor (কমলালেবুর পায়েস) and secondly we have the famous one the nolen gur flavored payesh (নলেন গুড়ের পায়েস). The first one is made with orange skin and the actual orange is used for the decoration purpose. This orange flavored payesh is a hugely popular item among the bengalis. Its normally made only with rice and NOT semiya. Below is one such item.
The next one we normally have is the nolen gurer payesh. Its made with the khejur gur available is the market. nolen gurer payesh can be made using both rice and semiya. Below is a picture of the same.
Can we call pithe the Indian or rather bong version of cakes ? But in fact, why should we ? Let us enjoy them like the way we normally do. In pithe, we normally have 4 varieties-
- Gokul pithe
- Seddho pithe
- Shukno pithe and
- Dudh puli
The filling of the pithe is called a ছাই chhnai , which is grated coconut cooked in ghee with till its mixed and the shape is given by hand-rolling. This base is steamed/ fried/ boiled in milk etc to get the desired pithe.
Gokul pithe is the most popular variant among the three. In this, a base is made out of grated coconut and jaggery and little crushed green cardamom. This base is made in the shape of flat balls as shown below, dipped in a batter, deep fried and put in sugar syrup.
gokul pitheSeddho pithe is the more healthy steamed variant of the same. Here again the base if made. The wrap is made out of ground rice and pinch of salt. The base is stuffed inside and steamed (boiled in some variations).
In some places, this one is tossed with a tampering of whole jeera and one few red chilly to give it a tangy edge.
The next one is Shukno pithe. Its basically the pithe is its dry form- deep fried.
The dudh puli is the variation where this pithe is boiled in condensed milk to give a much smoother finish.
Finally, we have the patisapta. Its basically a bengali pancake, where its stuffed with khowa or jaggery flavored grated coconut.
And finally for a non-sweet-tooth person like me, the saving grace is কড়াইশুঁটির কচুরি আর আলুর দম (greenpeas stuffed kachori with alu sabzi). Now, this mae my day and I just looove it.
So far, I am going to gorge on the above-mentioned items. Hope you liked the same.
Bon apetit !!!
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Bon apetite !!!