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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mung daler Puli Pithe ~ Makar Sankranti Speciality from Bengal

Makar Sankranti, a major Hindu festival falls on, 14th of January every year, sometimes on 13 or 15th January(leap year) with exception . Unlike most of the other Indian Hindu Festivals, the date of Makar Sankranti is fixed. Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti is transition/movment. This popular Indian festival is celebrated as "Harvest Festival" and is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is said as the 'holy phase of transition'. It marks the end of an inauspicious phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around mid-December. Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights, i.e., Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.

      It is one of the major Indian festival celebrated almost every part of the country in myriad cultural forms and in different names. Like, in Punjub, it's celebrated as 'Lohri', in South India, it celebrated in the name of 'Pongal'. Every region celebrates it in their own ways, according to the localization, culture and traditions. In Bengal, Sankranti, also known as "Poush Sankranti/Poush Parvan", named after the Bengali month(Poush) in which it falls (last date of that month is sankranti), is celebrated as a harvest festival. A special kind of sweet, named "Pitha/Pithe", with freshly harvested rice, coconut and date palm jaggery(Khejurer Gur) are the min ingredients. Different varieties of pithes with elaborate methods are made through out the month to celebrate the harvest. recipes passes down from generations to generations are prepared with great zeal in every bengali family. these sweets are very special in taste with heavenly combination of ingredients like grounded rice(rice flour), coconut and gur(date plam jaggery).

 I'll share one such pithe recipe which is passed through generations of my family. 

Mung Daler(yellow lentil) Puli pithe : This is quite different from the usual ones as you can see from the ingredients, it includes a lentil, yellow lentil or Mung daal along with rice flour. An outer covering is made with mung dal, rice flour and sweet potato and filled with coconut-jaggery mixture, and then give it a half moon shape, which is known as "Puli", is deep fried and finally soaked into sugar syrup. The process may sound little elaborate, but it's not at all complicated and the end result will make you crave for more and more and it's all worth.

You need
For the outer layer/Puli :
Mung dal : 1 cup
Sweet Potato(Ranga Aloo) : 1, medium(optional, but it binds the daal very well giving a nice soft dough)
Rice Flour : 1 cup or as needed to make dough

For the filling : 
Scraped Coconut(fresh) : 1 cup
Date palm jaggery : 1/2 cup, grated
Powdered Cardamom : 2 tsp.

For Sugar Syrup   :
Water : 2 cups
Sugar : 1 cup

How To :
Here is a pictorial step-by-step guide for better understanding:  

  • To make the outer layer/Puli : (1) Dry roast the mung dal or yellow lentil on a tawa for couple of minutes till it changes to a little darker shade. Then boil the dal with minimum water in a bowl. Remove and let it cool, then mash well. Also boil the sweet potato till done. Take the mashed dal in a bowl, add sweet potato and mix well. (2) In there add rice flour little by little and mix well. After every mixing, knead very well and check time to time if you can make a smooth ball without any single crack. If needed, add little more rice flour and knead again like you make chapati dough. Do not add a drop of water even. 
  • To make the filling : take a wide pan, add freshly scraped coconut and dry roast it for couple of minutes, then add grated jaggery. Mix well and cook on low flame by stirring constantly for about 10-12 minutes. When mixture doesn't stick to the pan any more, the filling is ready. the filling should not be too dry or too juicy. Sprinkle grounded cardamom powder to the mixture and mix well.
  • Making the pulis : from the prepared dal-rice flour dough, make small equal sized balls from the dough. take one ball on your palm, press it with other palm to flatten it like a disc, in the center place 1 tsp. of filling, bring two edges together and give it a half-moon shape. Secure the edges well so that filling doesn't come out. Your Mung Puli is ready. Make other pulis same way from the balls. Keep aside.
  • Frying the pulis : In a heavy bottomed kadai/wok, take enough oil to deep fry the pulis. Heat the oil and carefully drop 4-5 pulis at a time and in medium-low flame fry them to golden brown from both sides. Drain on a kitchen towel. Same way, finish frying them all.
  • Prepare the sugar Syrup : In a big bowl, take water and bring it to boil. Add sugar and when sugar dissolves and thickens, add fried mung pulis and in very low flame, keep the sugar syrup warm. Keep the pulis in warm syrup for 5 minutes, then remove and keep aside. Same way, finish making other pulis and dunk them in warm sugar syrup.

Cool and serve....Enjoy
Caution : once you taste these, you won't be able to control yourself. Wishing everyone a very happy Makar Sankranti

Sunday, January 11, 2015 / by / 1 Comments

1 comment:

  1. Hi Indrani - We found that you some awesome makar sankranti related recipes and would like to invite you to participate in the ongoing recipe contest. There will be 2 winners of the Jackpot prize. Checkout the details here and submit your entry now.


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