Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Bhaja Pithe

Many people know this pithe in the name of “Peraki”. We however were not accustomed with such a fancy name and knew it by its half moon shape and the fried feature. And since it used to be made with all the other pithe and puli during Janmashtami and Makar Sankranti, it automatically acquired its name for us and that was Bhaja Pithe (a fried pithe).

how to make bengali bhaja pithe recipe and preparation with step by step pictures

I loved this sweet jaggery and flavoured coconut filled Bengali hand pie because it was less of a pithe and more of a snack for me and they stayed crisp and fresh longer than the others. So even after 2 weeks of making pithe, when all the other pithes were merely a memory, bhaja pithe stayed fresh in a rack safely stacked inside a glass jar in the kitchen. The inside of the pithe tasted like Bengali coconut laddu and the crisp and short outer shell made it taste like a stuffed nimki. As a child who could hardly stay put in a place for a minute Bhaja Pithe was my go to snack, as all the other steamed and milk based pithe required a sitting arrangement and hence longer time.

how to make bengali bhaja pithe recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
Melt the jaggery in a pan with a little ghee.
how to make bengali bhaja pithe recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
Add the grated coconut to them.
how to make bengali bhaja pithe recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
Mix the coconut with the jaggery and stir continuously scraping the sides and the bottom of the pan.

how to make bengali bhaja pithe recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
Stir and cook until the mixture form a lump and starts to come off the pan. Switch off the flame and transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it come to room temperature.
how to make bengali bhaja pithe recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
Place the filling in the middle of the rolled tortilla.
how to make bengali bhaja pithe recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
Fold the tortilla to give it the half moon shape.
how to make bengali bhaja pithe recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
Seal the edges.

Bhaja Pitha
This recipe makes 20 pithes

how to make bengali bhaja pithe recipe and preparation with step by step pictures

Ingredients:
½ cup jaggery
2 cups of grated fresh coconut
1 tsp fresh green cardamom powder
2 and ½ cups of all purpose flour
2 tbsp ghee
A pinch of salt
Enough oil + ghee to deep fry

Method:
Make the dough:
Take the flour in a large bowl.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the ghee and salt.
Use your hand to rub the ghee and salt with the flour. Continue this until all the ghee is mixed with the flour and the flour has a crumbly texture. Take a fistful of that flour and press it to give it a shape. Open your fist and see if that mould holds that shape. If it stays that way without crumbling down on its own, your mixture is ready.
Pour hot water slowly and mix until you have a little sticky dough.
Knead this dough on a flat surface with the back of your palms until you have smooth elastic dough. You will know the kneading is complete if the dough becomes glossy and non-sticky and there will be no flour left on both of your palms or at the working surface.
Make the Filling:
Heat 1 tsp ghee in a pan and add the jaggery to it.
Stir and cook the jaggery until it melts.
Add the grated coconut to the melted jaggery and start mixing.
Scrap the sides and the bottom of the pan and cook the coconut until the mixture starts to come off the pan.
Add the green cardamom powder and mix well.
Switch off the flame and transfer the mixture to a cool plate.
Let the filling come to room temperature before preparing the pitha.
Make the pitha:
Make 18-20 small ping-pong size round balls from the dough.
Smear these balls with oil and cover them with a damp cloth, so that remain moist.
Take one ball and roll it into a medium thick tortilla.
Scoop 1 and ½ tsp of the coconut filling on one side of the tortilla and seal the edges by folding them like a hand pie. You can also make designs along the sealed edge. Follow this process to make pitha for the rest of the dough.
Fry the pitha in moderately hot oil (the oil should not be piping hot) for 10-12 minutes or until golden and crisp from outside.
These pithas will stay good for 2-3 weeks in an airtight container.


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