Choshi pithey (with sooji and narkol) / Dessert with semolina and coconut

April 15thPoila Boishakh – the first day of the Bengali calendar.

Subho Noboborsho – Happy Bengali New Year.

New clothes, cultural events, authentic bengali food, lots of sweets – that is how we commemorate this day.

Oceans apart, sitting where I am, it makes no difference. So… I thought of having my own celebration. Right now I have songs of Rabindranath Tagore playing in the laptop, will be making some spicy chicken and fish starters and will invite our Bengali neighbors for the evening. The main attraction of the menu will be the sweet dish that I prepared last night  Choshi Pithey. This is usually made in winters, but I believe there is never a better time for sweets than now.. and specially today! This preparation is a bit time taking and my husband was not sure if it was worth the effort. Finally I let him taste it and well the expression on his face said it all – it definitely is worth all the effort.

O Lord – Bless us with lots of love and laughter.

Ingredients:

For making the syrup –

  • Milk – 1.5 litres
  • Sugar – to taste
  • Green cardamom – 4-6
  • Bay leaf – 1 or 2

For making the choshi –

  • Grated coconut – 3/4th cup or If using coconut powder add lukewarm milk (1/4th cup or more approx.) to 3/4th cup of coconut powder so that it wets, soak for almost one hour
  • Sooji/Semolina – 3/4th cup + little more
  • Sugar – 3/4 cup (or to taste)
  • Milk (cold/at room temp.) – 1 tbsp (or a little more if required)

Method:

For making the choshi –

  • Mix all the ingredients and let it soak for 2 hours.
  • Heat a pan, keeping it on low flame add the above mixture.
  • Keep stirring till all the moisture evaporates and it almost solidifies into a dough like mixture.  Test it by taking a little amount and try to make a roll. If it holds then it is ready for the next step or else let it solidify more.
  • Once done, remove the pan from the flame and let it cool  down completely.
  • Make small elliptical balls (as shown in the picture) by rolling small amount of the dried mixture in the palm of your hand/finger, and keep aside in a plate or flat tray. These are called ‘choshi’.

Note:

  • This might take some time but be patient and try to keep the balls small so that they can be cooked well later  on.
  • In case the mixture sticks to the palm/finger dust your hands with some flour .
  • It is preferable to keep aside the ‘choshi’ for an hour or so before proceeding. I generally make the choshi the previous day of making the dish.
  • Ensure that the ‘choshi’ do not crowd over each other, they are soft and hence should not get mashed.
  • If the mixture gets mashed while making the choshi, cook it again in the pan on low heat and let it solidify more.

For making the syrup –

  • Boil milk in a thick bottom pan. Do not concentrate it.
  • Add sugar (to taste) and then add ‘choshi’. Do not use spoon or ladle to add the choshi, just tilt the late and pour them over. Next is a 3 step process that leads to completion of making this dessert.
  • After pouring the choshi sinks to the bottom. Do not stir at this stage. Just let it cook.
  • Then the choshi gradually comes to the surface and floats. At this stage stir slightly with a ladle/spoon only once or twice. Taste a little bit and add more sugar if required at this step only. Let it stand till all the choshi starts floating.
  • Lastly all the choshi sink to the bottom again indicating completion of cooking. Stir once with a spoon, if the milk is thin (dilute), since sooji soak in lot of milk and gradually thicken with time.

Note:

  • The first time when I made it I could not identify the 3rd step. So I let it cook for a while till the choshi was properly cooked. It tasted perfectly fine. So no need to bother if the last step is not easily identified.
  • Serve it after 4-5 hours of making so that the choshi soaks in the milk completely, preferably let the ‘choshi’ soak milk overnight.
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