Bihu savouries from Assamese Cuisine: tekelir mukhot diya pitha

HAPPY BIHU…..And a very Happy New Year..Well that”s  the Rongali Bihu festival according to Assamese culture that also marks the beginning of the new year on April 15th. The image above(courtesy: google images) is a representation of the customary  Bihu jolpan ( mostly eaten during breakfast)  that is relished by every Assamese household during Rongali Bihu
Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu is a festival of Assam celebrating one  type of harvesting season, because traditionally Assam as a state has been  an agricultural society. It is also a festival of celebrating the joy of love represented  through Bihu folk songs and the traditional “Bihu Dance”. Bihu cultural functions are celebrated in fact not just in Assam but across the globe by the
Assamese community during this time. They represent a unified community that who celebrates bihu though musical and cultural programes, songs and dances galore and Great food
too.
Bihu celebration is represented by wearing new clothes and abundance of Bihus
special savouries” “Pithas” apart from the bihu dances and songs. Pithas are specific traditional savories or “Rice cakes” in an urban /global lingo that which are either steamed or fried. During this time varied types of Pithas are made and served in every household.  However now a days
they are commonly available in markets too.
 Pithas are traditional and typical assamese sweet savouries. There are different types of pithas, however the main ingredient being the rice flour( Pithaguri as it is called).Mixed with jaggery, coconut, or even sesame seeds..Jaggery is used more often then sugar as a sweetner that goes with the mix of riceflour  and also used for its binding ability is my guess. Ghila pitha, til pitha(sesame pitha),sunga pitha, til(sesame) larus(laddus), narikol larus(cocoanut laddus),  tekelir mukht diya pitha(steamed pitha in a kettle), kol pitha(banana pithas),etc are some of the most popular ones. Although the most popular amongst are the ghila and the til..My earlier post already mentions of the ghila pitha (http://indraniskitchenflavours.blogspot.in/2013/02/ghila-pitha-riceflour-and-jaggery.html)
Honestly I would have loved to post on the til pithas or the larus, but  candidly speaking; am not too good in making them nor did I have the exact ingredients available in Mumbai.Its not very easy actually making these pithas  if you live outside the state of Assam coz the rice used actually is of  a variety which  is not very commonly found.Joha or Bora Saul(Rice) is used for making a variety of Pithas .
So here I am with a pitha that which is slightly easy to prepare and of course amazing in taste as well. Very quick and easy this doesn’t need too much of labour like the other pithas . Just a mix of coconut and rice powder with sugar  and steamed to perfection.The most amazing part is the preparation process. As a kid I would love to watch Maa make them,in fact I would love the process of making them more then even eating them. The name “tekelir mukhot diya pitha” means “made in the mouth of the kettle and steamed” till done..Practically its steamed in the cover of the
kettle, steamed in  a muslin cloth,placed on the cover inside and steamed while the kettle is on stove with boiling water.Amazing, isn’t it?
Ingredients:
Riceflour(Pithaguri)- 2 cups
Grated coconut-1 cup
Sugar-1cup
Baking powder- 1tsp (optional)
Method:
  • Process of making the rice flour:Soak the rice for 2 hours.Strain it in a strainer. When slightly damp,blend it in a mixer .Do not make it powdery form. Keep it aside
  •  Let the kettle boil on the stove with water
  •   Meanwhile mix the rice flour with the coconut,add baking powder(optional) and mix until they take a crumbled form.
  •  Now mix sugar into the mixture with your hands.
    But plz note that the mixture should not be too smooth otherwise it becomes like
    idlis. These Pithas are not supposed to be smooth like idlis, don’t forget.That”s
    my mom”s tip. Also it should be a little dry and damp.
  • Now take the cover of the kettle. Put a soft
    napkin/muslin cloth on the inside part of the cover.ensure that u press the
    cloth inside and the rest of the napkin flows out of the cover.
  • Now add a bit of the mixture into the cloth that
    which takes the shape of the kettle cover.Fill it in till you think you can
    cover it with the edges of the napkin.
  • Now close the kettle with the pitha wrapped in
    the cloth inside the cover. The edges of the cloth needs to come out of the
    cover as shown in the pic below.
  • Let it steam for a while.
  • Take out the cover, open the cloth and warm up to the most wonderful steamed  sweets
P          Pls note: Baking powder is optional, nowadays used my many for its self raising ability.I have            used too.Although in olden times , there was no concept of baking powder being used.
One look at the mix above and you will realise that the texture is not very smooth.It is not supposed
to be smooth like idlis.That”s imp.Also its a little dry yet damp.

 

Absolutely unique and exclusive to the cuisine of Assamese
culture, you wouldn’t find this anywhere in the world. The steaming process results in an uniquely distinct taste and is absolutely sweet and soft. Its best served warm  and goes best dipped in a glass of milk. At least
that’s how I like, hot piping Pithas with the flavor of the steamed coconut overpowering.
Riceflour(Pithaguri) and coconut mixed with sugar is anyways a deadly combo.
Anyhow you plan to cook it, either steam or fry, it works out to an awesome taste. Am sure you would fall in love with these pithas once you take  a bite. We relish our pithas generally with
tea, like tea time snacks. And during Bihu, you wouldnlt want to go visiting
people after a certain period of time for fear of overloading of varieties of pithas, since  you will almost be forced to eat till your tummy breaks!!! That’s how assamese hospitality is..mostly associated with good food,and feeding guests so much so that at times I fear going out visiting people when I go back home (Guwahati) for a holiday. Sometimes the hosts would almost be offended if you refuse to finish the plate of food served, irrespective of how large or small an eater you are..
This pitha however can also be had with milk. Break into pieces,
dip in milk and just relish the beauty of the sweet cocoanut. Even if its cold,
don’t forget to warm it up in the microwave before you serve it to your guests.
This is a warm dessert /sweet and not cold. Even if I am biased towards this pitha
coz of my cultural affinity yet I can vouch that the  perfect combo of rice flour and cocoanut is a
winner anyways, so steaming it just creates absolute yummy wonders that will
not fail to indulge you; is my promise!!!
So enjoy  and relish these
gastronomic delights from Assamese Cuisine this Bihu… To good times , warm
smiles and blessings in this new year !!!

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