I have often watched mom make pithes at home during winters – it was one of those innumerable tastes we shared a common craving for as opposed to dad and bro – and we thoroughly enjoyed them between the two of us when the ‘season’ arrived. I always thought I would make them myself someday soon, but honestly before I got married I never needed to. In fact, mom was such an expert at pithes, I gladly left it to her and only contributed by chatting away on the kitchen platform while she walked around preparing for the dumplings. So when Kolkata food bloggers was celebrating poush parbon, I was glad I would finally get to make them myself, but also slightly intimidated because I would be working with rice flour for the first time. To top it all, I can’t shape or mould anything to save my life, so I just prayed they would at least taste good. I had a quick chat with mom and she warned me against store bought rice flour but then given that I had limited time in hand, I had no choice but to go ahead with it and see for myself how it turns out. So much for the story of my anxiety. I’m happy to concur that the end result was satisfactory. Have a long way to go with the shaping though, but they did turn out spongy and flavourful. Luckily the rice flour was made of parboiled rice, which mom said is ideal for pithes.
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and I decided to make a salty version of pithe using a lentil filling that my mom often used to make for me. Here goes the recipe:
- Rice flour: 1.5 cups
- Water: about a cup
- Salt: a pinch
- For the filling:
- Yellow moong dal: half a cup
- Toasted and ground cumin seeds: 1 tsp
- Salt- to taste
- Pepper- a pinch
- Sugar- a pinch
- Nolen gur or honey – for garnish
- Boil a cup of water with a pinch of salt.
- Add the rice flour and keep stirring till it forms a lumpy thick paste.
- Leave it to cool into a soft dough.
- Meanwhile, dry roast the moong daal and boil it with water and some salt for about 10 mins or until mushy.
- Season with pepper and sugar to taste.
- Rub some oil on your palms and use them to make small balls out of the rice flour dough
- Flatten each ball, stuff it with the daal filling and shape the pithes in a spindle shape.
- Steam the pithes for 7-8 mins.
- Drizzle some nolen gur or honey to serve.