19 Jul Narikol pitha – an assamese sweet delicacy
As with the culture, Assam is basically an agricultural state with rice being the main staple..hence the harvesting season holds enough importance for a great produce for the season..therefore, most of the sweets are a by product of rice flour mixed with other ingredients..pithas signify just that. They are sweet delicacies that are generally prepared at home during the festival of Bihu..Bihu for the uninitiated is the biggest festival of Assam signifying the culture and livelihood of Assam.Three types of Bihu across the year disseminates and explains information about the Assamese culture and life..Magh bihu or Bhogali Bihu, Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu and Kati Bihu defines explicitly about the culture and traditions portraying an Assamese lifestyle.
Traditionally various types of pithas which signifies assamese delicacy were made during these festivals as a way of celebrations, be it for a good harvest or bringing in the new year ..pithas are generally prepared with rice flour , coconut and jaggery or sugar while some specific delicious pithas are made with black sesame seeds..jaggery was commonly used as a substitute for sugar as it possess its binding quality and of course flavour. Ghila pitha, till pitha, narikol pitha, narikol laru, tilor laru, tekelir mukhot diya pitha rules the list of pithas that are relished during the festivals.. earlier these were considered countrified sweet morsels, often arriving from your native granny’ s house or people who bring them from their villages to gift their friends;relations or seniors at work during bihu.They were not made on a regular basis in modern homes for its difficulty levels of preparations(that’s my belief) and time constraint and also the non existence of the ‘dheki’ that’s instrumental in grinding the rice to a fine powder .the dheki was and is supposedly a grinding tool made of wood that is like a machine which had to be used manually using both your legs and hands to grind the rice flour to a coarse texture and included immense physical labour.Yet in modern times with the advent of mixer grinders ,their appearance on regular days or non Bihu period has become a possibility .In fact their existence has only been strengthened now with ready made pithas being available in the super markets..as all Assamese people across the world celebrate Bihus and love their pithas, so the availability is now incessantly important and hence even if our mothers do not maybe make them often at home, yet you will be exposed to a variety of readily available packed pithas and larus for you to carry back home and indulge.
The narikol(coconut) pitha is prepared exactly like the ghila pitha except that it is made with an addition of grounded coconut which which builds in a certain texture and imparts a strong sweet influence over the pitha.Like the ghila pitha, even in this process, the exact quantities of ingredients need to be stritly adhered to otherwise you will not get the perfect pithas.With the right amount of ingredients, it tends to be a simple process of preparation by mixing all ingredients together. The bugbear(for many including me) is the frying process..most often it doesn’t end up with the perfect crispness or fails to stay as a whole and breaks away..this is a result of the mix of ingredients that hasn’t gone right..the confluence of the proportion of the ingredients needs to be correct to arrive at that perfect round grainless and spotless pitha with a fine crumb and an outer edge. This is the most tricky part which is hard to master and not everybody can champion this..but this is my mother’s best pitha of all including the ghila pitha which she makes with great elan and perfection. They say its all in your hands when it comes to cooking..they are more perfect then anything else with a deep professional touch that scores very high on taste ,flavour and texture
Riceflour- 2 cups
grinded coconut- 1 cup
Sugar or grated jaggery -1 cup(i used jaggery for its flavor)
Oil- As required for deep frying
Cradamon powder- a pinch
- Mix the grinded coconut and sugar/jaggery whatever you desire and keep aside for sometime.I used jaggery for an an enhanced flavor
- Now mix the riceflour to the mixture of coconut and blend well with no lumps.Add a pinch of elaichi(cardamon) powder
- Now make small balls out of this mixture and flatten them slightly to give shape.
- Deep fry them on both sides on low-medium flame. The resultant texture should be a hard and crisp outer covering with moist and soft filling inside..