Wish all my readers a very happy Makar Sankranti.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated almost each part of India in many other names..like Poush Sankranti- Magh Bihu- Uttarayan- Pongal- Lohri etc. We Bengali people celebrate this auspicious hervest festival as "Poush Sankranti". Making "pithe-puli" (sweet dumplings) is a part of ritual in eastern parts of India. So this is also known as "Pithe Parbon" (festival of dumplings) in West Bengal. Freshly harvested paddy and nolen gur/notun gur ( date palm jaggery) are the two most significant gift of this season! Ma used to make different kind of "pithe" for the rest of winter, starting from the Sankranti day. My sister is the biggest "pithe"-lover at our home. But my most favourites are "ranga alur pithe", "bhapa pithe" and "patishapta". I never botherd to know, how ma is making them until I got married! Now I really miss those. However, Ma is really expert in making these things...in fact, I remember one incident..ma supplies (as gift) "pithe-puli" to our neighbours every year. One year she was not at home that time and our neighbours ( jethimas and boudis) told Ma how much they waited for Ma's "Pithe puli"!! I really wanted to make it this year. So , I called Ma for the recipe and made it. Well, I know I can't match Ma's excellence ,but to be honest it was really satisfiying. Sharing my Ma's recipe here.
Recipe adapted from my Ma:
Ingredients for "Ranga Alur Pithe":
Yield 22-25 medium size Pithe
- Ranga alu/ Sweet potato 300 gm
- Mung daal /yellow lentil a fistfull (be generous)
- Rice flour 1 1/2 table spoon
- Atta as needed (for making a dough)
- Date plam jaggery 1 1/2 table spoon
- Ghee/ clarified butter 1 table spoon
- White oil/ ghee for frying
- Grated coconut 2 cups
- Sugar/ date palm jaggery/gur according to your taste (I added little less than 1 cup sugar)
- Green cardamom 1 (powdered)
- Sugar/date palm jaggery/gur 1 cup (you can use half and half also)
- Water 1 1/3 cup
- Green cardamom 2 (crushed)
- Take a pan and mix grated coconut with sugar or gur. Turn on the heat and start cooking on low. Cook till it's sticky and leaving the edges of pan. Turn off the heat. Mix with cardamom powder if using sugar. I do not use cardamom if using gur, as I want to retain the flavour of gur.
- Now take a sauce pan and combine sugar/ gur (whatever you are using) and water together. I used half gur and half sugar. Add cardamom. Start heating to make the syrup. It will take somewhere 10 minutes or so. Syrup-consistency should not be too thick or thin.
- Dry roast mung daal until nicely fragerant. Wash few times under running water. Now boil sweet potato and mung daal together until soft. Be careful while adding water. Everything should get cooked and there sould not be any excess water.
- Peel potatoes and smash together with gur, rice flour and a table spoon of ghee. Make it as smooth as possible. Now mix with atta. Little by little, as needed. The dough sould not be too much sticky but really soft.
- Make the dumplings (pithe/puli) next. Take very little amount of the dough (a marble size) and make it smooth with your both plams. Now flatten it like a small "puri". Put some stuffing and fold it like half moon. Press the edges nicely, so the stuffing doesn't come out. Keep it in a covered bowl until all the dumplings are ready.
- Now heat enough oil for deep frying. Keep the flame high. Fry max 4 at one batch. Let it get light shade of brown and reduce the heat. Keep stirring the oil gently with a laddle. Now turn the dumplings nicely. Fry dumplings until the are reddish brown in colour. Do not make them blackish. Take out from oil to tissue pepper to absorb excess oil. Do the same with rest of the "pithe"s.
- You can eat them like this without dipping into syrup or just put them into warm syrup and let them rest for couple of hours before you serve.
- They taste best the day after.