Patishapta

Winters in India is associated with the harvesting season and is celebrated all through the country. In Bengal this harvesting festival is known as ‘Poush Parbon’. For a sweetlover (like me) this is the season for pithey and patishapta. Never a winter season went by without me savoring the patishapta – pithey. Special thanks to my ‘dida’ for that. Even when I was away from home she ensured she traveled in the crowded local train to hand over a box of such  delicacies to ensure i did not spend my winter afternoons without one of these.

Now the distance is too much and she misses sending them to me, so I decided to honor her sentiment and NOT pass my winter without a patishapta. I decided to make it myself! Huh! Agreed it may not be an easy task, but since December 09 I have made this sweet dish almost thrice and every time it was simply perfect and no ordeal at all. So I thought of publishing it in my blog along with this single snap of my first attempt of this mouth watering dessert.

Winters for Bongs should really not go without a bite of the ‘Patishapta’…

Ingredients:

For the crepes:

  • All purpose flour – 1/2 cup
  • Sooji/Semolina – little less than 1/2 cup
  • Sugar – to taste (1/2 cup approx or little more)
  • Cold milk – sufficient to make the batter smooth and free-flowing.
  • Oil – for frying

For the filling:

The different ways of making the filling is illustrated below:

  • Coconut, grated or powder or flakes – 1 cup
  • Sugar – to taste or 1/2 cup approx
  • Milk (if using coconut powder or flakes) – 1/2 cup

or

  • Coconut, grated or powder or flakes – 1 cup
  • Sugar – to taste or 1 tbsp
  • Condensed milk – 1/4th cup

or

  • Coconut, grated or powder or flakes – 1 cup
  • Jaggery or Gur – 1/3rd cup or to taste

or

  • Khoya – 1 cup
  • Jaggery or Gur – 1/3rd cup or to taste

Method:

  • In a pan on medium flame mix coconut, milk and sugar. If using condensed milk, reduce the amount of sugar and milk
  • Keep stirring continuously till the all moisture evaporates and it becomes sticky.  Check by taking a little of the mixture and rolling it on your palm. If it holds, then its ready.
  • Remove it from heat and allow it to cool.
  • Mix flour, sooji, sugar and milk thoroughly into a batter of dropping consistency. Do not add the milk all at once. Add it gradually as you mix to the desired consistency. Keep aside for 1-2 hours or more. Also add sugar gradually and taste it to ensure the batter is not too sweet.
  • Heat a pan and wipe it with 1-2 tsp of oil. Use a cotton ball to wipe uniformly.
  • Pour a ladle full of the batter, spread it evenly on the pan by lifting the pan and swirling it in a circular motion. Do it quick before the batter sets in. Cook the batter for 30-40 secs approx, ensure that it does not get too brown.
  • Place 1-2 tsp of the filling lengthwise on one side of the crepe and roll it over to the other end.
  • Remove from the pan onto a plate
  • While serving you may drizzle the patishapta with some condensed milk , though this is optional.

Note:

  • Do not add excess sugar to the batter or else the crepe might stick to the pan while frying. When ready to fry, add a drop of the batter in the pan and test if it sticks or not. If it comes out smooth you can add little more sugar (if required). I generally add less sugar,  as the crepe need not essentially be sweet and then add more in small amounts if required before frying.
  • Also the batter should not be thick, if so then add more milk before frying and mix well.
  • The crepes should be thin, only then will it remain soft even when cold
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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.