Having located to Southeast Asia, Bangladesh is a perfect example of where you can enjoy six seasons in 12 months. The Bengali year begins on April 15th when we celebrate our Bengali new year. Summer, Monsoon, Autumn, Late Autumn, Winter and Spring are six seasons those exhibit individual natural beauties as well as different opportunities to grow crops in rainy season, producing delicious fruits in Summer and harvesting ripe paddy at late autumn.
Right after that, in winter, you get to collect new date palm tree juice or new date palm molasses which is also one of the season’s best offerings for making special kinds of dessert ( in Bengali we call it “Pitha”). You can enjoy this as breakfast in the chilly winter morning when you wake up and warm yourself up or even after any meal or without any reason since they are hard not to eat :-). The fresh rice flour, new date molasses and coconut crumbs are three main ingredients to make at least five different desserts during winter time. Today I will share my favorite Pitha recipe although it is hard to decide but I will go with it :-). It is called chitoi pitha. It is similar to crumpet but the rest of the recipe is a bit lengthy, but you get the best taste when you make it with love, care and time. Every Bangladeshi will make this dish in winter at home or have it sourced from nearby street food court or from any restaurant!
Chitoi pitha is a very popular pitha in Bangladesh. You can eat with any kind of spicy dip, beef or duck curry or enjoy a sweeter version of it. Today I will post the recipe of a sweeter version which is known as “dudh chitoi”. Traditionally we use clay wok to cook it but if it is not found around, a cast iron griddle can be used. That special clay wok or cast iron wok have few molds where you put the rice batter to make the pithas perfectly done. Below you will see the pictures of those as well. The recipe is inspired from one of our beloved Bangladeshi cooks Khadiza Sharmin. I am sure you will love it.
For the pitha
1 cup rice flour* of parboiled Basmati rice
1/2 cup white rice flour (Atop chaal er guri or readymade, store bought rice flour or any fragrant rice such as jasmine, kalijira etc.)
1 and 1/4th cup luke warm water (you may need more or less)
1 fistful of cooked rice
few pinches salt
1 tea spoon baking powder
1/2 tea spoon baking soda
* If you want to make rice flour at home, soak the rice for couple of hours, at least 4/5 hours. Then drain the water. Dry out the rice and grind in the grinder.
Procedure for the dry Pitha:
1. Blend the rice flour, cooked rice, salt, water, baking powder, baking soda together with water. The batter should not be thick. It should be thin but not too thin. The correct consistency of batter is very important to make perfect chitoi pitha.
2. Heat the mold or cast iron wok. It should be very hot. Grease the wok or mold with little oil. For that you can use kitchen tissue or cheese cloth or any piece of cotton cloth. Now pour some batter and cover the wok or mold. Cook the pitha at low flame for 2- 3 minutes. The temperature is very important too. So always cook chitoi pitha on a very hot wok at low flame.
3. Cook just one side and loosen the edges around the pitha from mold or wok with a knife and take them out. Grease the wok, every time you pour batter in.
For the syrup:
4-5 cups of water
Solid Date molasses (khejur gur patali), grated or broken in small pieces, according to the taste
1/2 cup or more grated coconut
1 cup of evaporated milk or very thick milk
Procedure for the dudh chitoi pitha:
1. In order to make dudh chitoi, the pithas need to be hot. It can be freshly made or made previously but steamed later on to warm them up.
2. Make a molasses syrup by boiling water with the molasses until little thick. The syrup should be thin but not too watery. It must not be thick, or else the pithas won’t soak up the syrup. Depending on the size of pithas you may need more water.
3. Add the coconut.
4. Now immediately add the warm/ hot pithas into the hot syrup. Cover them up. Cook another 12/15 minutes. The pithas will soak up much syrup.
5. When the syrup is cooled down or slightly warm, add slightly warm milk into it. Don’t add hot milk or milk into very hot syrup that would separate water from milk. The syrup and milk both must be slightly warm. Now cover it and let the pithas to be soaked at least 4/5 hours.