Bengali

Dudh Puli

8:23 AM





Dudhpuli or puli pithe is another famous pithe which are prepared on the eve of Poush Sankranti. This pithe has a outer shell or the khol made with rice flour and is filled with sweet stuffing made with coconut and sugar. Then these dumplings are either boiled in thickened milk sweetened with jaggery or steamed and eaten with liquid date palm jaggery. The commonly found shape is of the half moon shape (like North Indian gujia) or the crescent shape, but one can do a lot of experiment with the shape and size. We generally give it three shapes the normal half moon/ crescent , the sun shape and the Singara/ Samosa or triangle shape.

Here is the recipe for a family of four.

Ingredients:
For the shell:
2 cups of rice flour (we generally use two types of flours, boiled rice flour and non boiled or atop rice flour and the quantity of boiled to non boiled should be 2:1) if you dont get these two varieties use any one but increase the quantity of normal flour.
2 spoonfulls: normal flour
1 pinch: salt
Warm water: to make the dough.

For the kheer
1.5 liter: Full cream milk
1 cup: jaggery or sugar

for the stuffing:
2 cups: grated coconut
1 cup: sugar
1 spoon: cardamom powder

Method:
Step 1: Make the filling
Take the stuffing ingredients in a heavy bottom pan and cook till the mixture comes together. The water from the coconut should evaporate and the mixture should leave the sides of the pan. Flavor it with cardamom powder. Take it off from heat and let it cool.

Step 2: Make the shell or the khol
Now mix the dry ingredients of the shell in a large bowl or plate. Start putting the hot water little at a time and knead it thoroughly to get soft dough. If at any point you find the dough very hard add some more water and knead again. Always keep the dough covered as the dough becomes hard if exposed to air. So after the initial kneading take small portions and knead it again. The dough would be soft but not sticky.
Once the dough is ready make small balls, the size of a small lemon. Flatten the ball with your fingers in the shape of a bowl. The shell would be medium thin. Stuff the filling mixture into it. Fold it so that the two edges come together, press and make a design as shown in picture. The sealing should be tight otherwise while boiling, the filling might come out.



Different shapes of Puli Pithe


Step3: Making the Puli Pithe
In a big pan heat the full cream milk. Once it starts to boil add in the puli one by one. Stir and let it cook for 10 minutes. You will see when the pulis are boiled they will come at the surface of the milk. At this point add the jaggery and mix everything together. Be careful not to break any puli. Cook for another 5 minutes or so and serve cold.

Bengali

Poush Parbon er Pithe: Nalen gurer Patishapta

11:27 AM







It is a well-known fact that us Bengalis are crazy for our mishti or sweets. Not only we love to eat sweets but we love to make sweets too and one such kind of festival when we crave for homemade sweets is called Poush sankranti. Poush sankranti or Poush parbon is observed on the auspicious day of Makara sankranti or the last day of Bengali month Poush. Not only in Bengal but in all over India this day is regarded as a very special day and various traditions are followed. Like in south India they celebrate Pongal, in Punjab it is celebrated as Lohri, in Bengal people gather at the holy place of Gangasagar where the river Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal to take dip in the morning. It is believed that by doing so one can get rid of all sins.

In all Bengali households this time is also celebrated as the winter harvesting festival. The day starts with the eldest son of the house going to the field and bringing home the first portion of the harvest. The whole house is decorated with Alpona or designs made with rice paste on floors and walls. In our family the girls side sends sheeter tatto (winter offering of gifts) to the in laws place which comprises of winter fruits, all the ingredients of pithe, winter delicacies like Jaynagarer moa (a sweet made with jaggery, thickened milk and khoi, which is a version of puffed rice), sweets made with new jaggery like nolen gurer rosogolla, sandesh etc. But the best part starts in the evening when all the ladies of the house gathers to prepare Pithe or varieties of sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk and jaggery. As this festival falls in the month of winter the goodies are mostly prepared with notun gur or date palm jaggery. The most popular pithes are like Dudh puli (which is rice flour dumplings with coconut filling and boiled in thickend milk with jaggery), Patishapta (rice flour crepes filled with coconut and milk solids), Gokul pithe (fried flour and semolina dumpling with coconut stuffing and boiled in sugar syrap), Aske pithe (steamed rice flour and coconut mixture with jaggery) etc. In Bengali tradition the first pithe is always offered to Agni debota or the fire God.

In my side of family we are very fond of food and cooking and we never miss poush parbon, which is almost like a family ritual to gather on the table to knead the rice dough, scrape the coconut, make the filling and then to prepare the pithe. Almost everyone in our family takes part in the preparation of pithe and it turns out to be a perfect evening of family gathering.

I love eating and making Pithe but at my in laws side they don’t enjoy this festival even Hubby A is not very fond of these sweet offering L. Last year I did not make any and had my dose of these sweet at my mother’s place. But this year Maa has send the sheeter tatto with which I made my favorite Dudhpuli and Patishapta and enjoyed with some friends.

Nalen Gurer Patishapta
(Flour, semolina and jaggery Crepes with coconut and milk solids filling)


Originally patishapta is made with rice paste, but that is a quite time consuming process so in most urban Bengali households we make patishapta with semolina and normal flour.

Ingredients
For the crepes:

1 cup: Semolina
1 cup: Flour
½ cup: Date palm jaggery
3 cups: low fat milk
1/3-cup: ghee or butter.

For the filling:
2 cups: grated coconut
1 cup: sugar
½ cup: milk solids or khoya
½ spoon: ground cardamom

For the Kheer
½ liter full cream milk
½ can of milkmaid or any variety of condensed milk
2 spoonfuls: Date palm jaggery.

Method:

It has three steps: 1. To prepare the filling
2. To prepare the kheer (the thickened milk) or the sugar/ jaggery syrup in which the crepes are soaked.
3. To fry the crepes and prepare it with filling.

First soak the semolina in the milk and keep aside for ½ n hour.

In the meantime make the stuffing. For that put the grated coconut and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and cook till the water evaporates and the mix comes together. Then add the milk solids and cook till the mixture leaves the side of the pan. Flavor it with the cardamom powder and mix well. Let it cool.


In another pan boil the full cream milk till the quantity reduces to two third. Mix it well with condensed milk and jaggery. Boil for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep it warm. You can bypass this step by using condensed milk.

Now go back to the semolina mixture, which should be mushy and soft by now. Put the other ingredients and mix till everything mixes properly. The consistency of the batter is very important it should be thin but not runny. It should easily flow and coat the pan once it’s poured in the pan. If you find the batter much thick mix some more milk or water and get the required consistency.
For preparing the crepes heat a little bit of oil in a non-stick pan and pour a ladleful of crepe mixture. Spread it quickly to cover the pan. Put a lid and keep it covered for a minute. Check if the crepes are set. Put some more oil by the sides and cook till the lower portion is golden brown. Turn over and cook for some more time. Now spread the filling over the length of the crepe and fold from both sides. Take it out and spread some sauce over it. Serve hot or cold, both ways it tastes great.

Memoir

11:50 AM


Spring is here…the colours from my window.
Again the time of the year has come when I long for being with my family in Santiniketan…those new green leaves, the clear sky, the green fields, the murram roads towards the ashrama, the bright yellow of Palash (Butea monosperma) flowers, the ‘adda’ (chatting) sessions under the shadows of the trees in front of the girls hostel, the music in the air, the sudden burst of laughter in the rehearsal rooms, the roadsides abiir (gulal/ dry colours) vendors and the tired us after a daylong dance practice for Basantotsav,…I miss those days and I want to go home.
This Friday afternoon when I was having my lazy lonely lunch on the drawing room couch and was daydreaming of those good old collage days I suddenly looked through my window and saw a riot of soft green colours. The tree besides my gate has started having new leaves…soft, tender and shiny. It made my day, gave me a feeling of being close to something that I cherish most.

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