Makar/Poush Sankranti Special : Patishapta Pitha & Khejurer Gurer Payesh

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Today is Makar Sankranti, which is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. The same is known as Poush parbon or Poush sankranti in Bengal(Easterm state of India), as it marks the end of Bengali month "Poush". This day is considered one of the auspicious time of the year, and as it is to celebrate the harvest festival, we bengalis make all sweet delicacies made with Rice and Palm Jaggery, which is available in winter months only. On this day, our mothers and grandmothers spend all day making some special homemade sweets, which we call "Pitha". Most common delicacies are Patishapta Pitha, Puli pitha, doodh puli and numerous other varieties of pithas and payesh/kheer/rice pudding with khejurer Gur(Kheer with date palm jaggery). Pitha or pithe, is a home-made sweet, which has outer layer made of rice or wheat flour and a inner filling made of different savouries, mostly coconut or Khoya.
The festival of Makar Sankranti is highly regarded by the Hindus from North to down South. The day is known by various names and a variety of traditions are followed. In Bengal, thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the country gather at Gangasagar, the point where the holy river Ganga meets the sea, the Bay of Bengal, to take a dip very early in the morning and wash away all the earthly sins. This fair is known as "Gangasagar Mela".
To signify this festival, I am sharing two sweet bengali delicacies today...
Patishapta Pitha  
It's a very common and very favorite pitha preperation of Bengalis. It's a crepe made of suji/semolina, rice flour and wheat flour/maida and stuffed with sweet coconut and nuts.

You Need::::::::::::::
Semolina or Suji : 1/2 cup
Rice flour/Chal guro : 1 cup
Maida(Plain white flour) : 1 cup
Milk : 1 cup
Sugar
Ghee(clarified butter) + Vegetable oil - can use both together for shallow frying
For stuffing or filling you need........
Freshly grated coconut : 1 and 1/2 cup
Sugar : 1/2 cup(use as per your taste)
Cardamom powder : 2 tbsp.
1/2 cup condensed milk
Almonds/cashews (chopped) and raisins : 1/2 cup

How to make the stuffing :

  • Grate the coconut. 
  • In a karahi or pan, stir together the coconut, sugar and mix. Stir continuously.
  • After 4-5 minutes, add condensed milk and stir until everything comes together. The mixture is ready when it won't stick to the pan anymore.
  • Add nuts and raisins, if you want. Take pan out of heat and sprinkle cardamom powder over it and give a good stir.
How to make the crepes or outer layer :

  • Soak the semolina/suji in milk for 30 to 45 minutes. In there, add flour/maida, rice flour and sugar and mix to make a smooth batter without lumps. the batter should be nor too thin, nor too thick, it should be free flowing smooth batter.
  • Now heat a wide frying pan or tawa, preferably non-stick one and grease with a drop of ghee. swirl pan around so that pan is coated evenly with the hot ghee.
  • Drop 2 tablespoon of batter into the frying pan and swirl pan around to make a round crepe(do it quick before the batter sets), around 3-4 inch in diameter. Make the crepe as thin as possible.
 
  • Allow batter to set, in medium-low flame and cook until crepe turns very light brown. 
  • Now flip to the other side and cook till turns light brown, again flip to the other side. 


  • Put little amount of stuffing at the one end of the crepe like in this picture and then fold upto the other end.
 
  • Remove from the pan and repeat the steps to make more patishaptas. Serve hot or cold.

Khejure'r Gurer payesh (kheer with Palm Jaggery)
This is a kheer or rice pudding made during winter months by bengalis with date/palm jaggery.

Khejur gur/palm jaggery is an absolute favorite to all bengalis and it is only available during winter months. It is available in two forms. Liquid khejur gur(made from boiling the sap from date palms) is so delicious and my very favorite. I can have my rotis or puris with this without any vegetable or dal. I was surprised when I made this kheer and served my two little ones(19 months) and they wanted to have more and more of it even though they were full. Khejur Gur in solid form is sold in the shape of oval discs and is known as "Patali Gur". If you ever get chance, try some sandesh made with this palm jaggery(Nalen gurer sandesh). You'll never forget the taste of it. You can make this kheer or payesh with any forms of khejur gur. I made with the solid form.


Ingredients :
Milk (2%)/whole milk : 1 and 1/2 litre
Basmati rice or preferably Govindo Bhog(special short grain rice for kheer) : 1/2 cup
Date palm Jaggery : 1/2 cup or more (adjust accr. to your taste)
Cardamom : 3-4
Raisins : 1/4 cup (soaked in water for 30 minutes)
Almonds and cashews : 1/2 cup

How To :

  • Wash the rice, drain the water and keep it aside for about 1/2 an hour.
  • Pour milk in a heavy bottomed pan and let it boil. When it starts boiling, add the rice and switch the flame to low.
  • Stir the milk continuously so milk does not burn or rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Break the cardamoms and add into the milk.
  • Add the cashews. Check time to time if the rice is done. Rice will be thoroughly cooked and soft. By this time milk will be thickened by half of its original volume.
  • When the milk has changed to a creamy consistency, but not too thick and the rice has become soft, take the bowl off the heat. Let it cool for 3-4 minutes. Break solid jaggery into smaller pieces and add little at a time and stir until it dissolves. 
Imp. Tips : Don't add jaggery when your payesh is on the stove, then it will curdle immediately. Don't make it too cool then it will be hard to make it dissolve.
  • Heat the bowl again, but in very low flame. Check your sweetness level, if needed add some more. Lastly, add raisins and decorate with blanched almonds. Take off the heat and cool in room temperature.
  • Serve hot or cold. It tastes better the next day.
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2 comments

  1. looks interesting.. Love both the desserts
    http://great-secret-of-life.blogspot.com

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  2. Vet lovely.. i also made pithes...lovelyu blog..
    http://from-a-girls-mind.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete

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