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The concept of 'bhapa' or 'steamed food' is a very interesting tenant of Bengali cuisine. Bhapa pitha is a special sweet dish that is prepared usually on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. This unique pitha is not fried like most other varieties but steamed in the typical Bengali style. Like most other Bengali recipes, bhapa pitha is an absolute treat to those who have an incurable sweet tooth.
You need just a handful of ingredients to make bhapa pitha. It cooks quickly and it is very easy to make if you have the right skills. Like most other pitha recipes, bhapa pitha is made with special kind of jaggery called 'patali gur'. But if you can't find this ingredient, you can use sugar or brown sugar.
Serves: 10 pithas
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
- Rice flour- 2 cups
- Finely ground sugar- 2tbsp
- Coconut- 1 cup (grated)
- Jaggery- 1 cup
- Salt- 1 pinch
- Boiling hot water- 1-2 cups
- Use hot water to knead the dough with rice flour, sugar and a pinch of salt. The dough should be soft and moist.
- Boiling water is used so that the dough is warm and remains moist for a longer period of time.
- In a deep bottomed pan, heat jaggery with a cup of water. Keep stirring as the jaggery melts so that it does not get burned.
- Add the grated coconut to the pan and keep stirring for 5-6 minutes until the stuffing for bhapa pitha is not ready.
- Allow the stuffing to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile make small, fist-sized balls out of the dough.
- Make a hole in the dough balls with your thumb. Stuff the jaggery and coconut mixture into this hole and seal the top with fingers.
- Now place all the dough balls in a closed steel container.
- Fill half of the pressure cooker with water and float the closed container in it. Pressure cook for the duration of two whistles.
- Allow the steam to blow out and then remove the container from the cooker.
Serve the bhapa pithas with the other Bengali delicacy, payesh (kheer) on Makar Sankranti.