How to Prepare Bengali Pitha

The festival season of Makar Sankranti will soon be upon us. In Bengal,  this festival is celebrated as Poush Shankarnati and is one of the classic winter occasions. To make it really special, traditional sweets called Pitha are prepared at home and enjoyed on the day of celebration.

Poush Sankranti is celebrated by worshiping the almighty, singing various ancient songs of  folklore and Rabindra Sangeet, poetry and enjoying a lavish feast which includes a variety of Pitha. The pitha in very traditional households are made by the older women of the house. If you are not so inclined to make your own there are often plenty of pitha sellers on the street indulging our tastebuds. Chitoi pitha (steamed pancakes) seems to be one of the most popular although a bhapa pitha will give it a run for its money.

Mishti Aloo Pitha

To the untrained eye this looks and feels like Gulab Jamun however there are subtle differences which mark this Pitha from its illustrious counterpart. It is prepared from a dough of mashed sweet potato, warm milk, sugar, fennel and madia. The dough is rolled into Gulab Jamun sized balls. It will be filled with a stuffing of grated coconut and melted jaggery dates (khajur gur). The balls are deep fried to a golden brown.

The sweetness is also contributed by a sugar syrup (sheera) which is poured over these balls. The dessert is best eaten warm.

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