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Winter Mandatory : Pitha!

  • Marzan Jamia
  • Marzan Jamia
  • 24 Dec 2019

Ask any Bengali what makes winter especial for them, in a heartbeat they will say food! Most importantly, they will tell you about the traditional rice cakes that is seasonal in winter called Pitha. With the first waft of the chilly wind getting into each household, one will surely find the in-house sweet aroma of pitha that the women of the family prepares with a lot of love to welcome winter with friends and, family.

Why So Important?

Traditionally in Bangladesh pithas are prepared and served on special occasion, such as receiving bridegrooms or brides, entertaining guests and arranging special get together of family members, relatives or friends. Pithas are often eaten at small meals, such as breakfast or as a snack with tea, although there are many sweet varieties that are reserved for desserts.

The most common ingredients of pitha are unboiled rice or wheat flour, molasses or sugar, coconut and oil. Meat and vegetables are also used in preparing some pithas such as Pooli pitha, Shabji (vegetables) pitha, Bhapa (steamed) pitha, Jhal(hot)patishapta pitha and Mangsha(meat)patishapta pitha. Sometimes fruits – mostly jackfruit, palm, coconut and banana are also used. Date juice and molasses prepared from date juice, palm syra, sugarcane molasses are also some of desierable ingredients. These pithas are named after the name of the fruit they are made from. A special type of pitha is prepared by using tree leaves as covers and are named pata pitha. Some pithas are named according to their size. A big size pitha is called ‘’Hati pitha’’, while one of the small types of pitha is named ‘’Khejur pitha. Sometimes the same pitha has different names in different areas. Some pithas are nationally known and familiar to all.

 

Pitha to Look Out for This Winter!

Chitoi piṭha, teler pitha, bhapa piṭha, pakan piṭha, puli piṭha, beni piṭha, dudher piṭha, bhija piṭha, chôndro puli, muger puli, dudh puli, paṭi shapta, mug pakon, gokul, chui pitha and, pithatil pitha are some of the sweet treats that you might as well find stepping into your own kitchen for your mom or grandmom might as well be crafting these sweet treats to embrace winter in its festive form! 

 

How Do the Busy Bodies Get Pithas Though?

Households dedicated to a faster lifestyle dedicated to work, how do they bring in the pitha tradition into their homes? People especially, those who live in urban areas don’t have much time to engage themselves for making pitha. It demands time and labour for pre preparation of pitha making. That is why, now a days cakes, pastry and other food items that are sold commercially are gradually replacing traditional homemade pithas, especially in urban areas. But pithas still continue to attract many, even in urban Dhaka, without any doubt. Many specialized shops sell pithas in a chic style where you just need your City Bank AMEX card to swap and get your box of goodness! Most pitha shops avail themselves to their customers with one phone call. Also, online delivery services made the entire process even more accessible because people in this country wait for it ardently!

 

The Charming Street Pithas

Small vendors in street corners also make their living by selling pithas for the ones just passing by. Watching pitha being made by one of those ‘khalas’ with the breezy winter air setting in as the sunshine goes golden will never lose it’s magic! The tiny clay pot steaming rice stuffed with grated coconut and, molasses is watching art itself!

 

And, have you even lived winter if you did not had a generous bite of chitoi pitha with one of those spicy bhortas?

 

Happy Winter!

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