Dudh puli pithe / rice dumplings stuffed with sweetened coconut for Makar Sankranti
As sun transmigrates from one zodiac to another, season changes, life moves on and it is that time of the year again to say thank you to Mother earth for selflessly providing us with abundant harvest, shelter and bountiful of happiness. At the same time we must not forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but silently living by them, each day of the year.
And on this auspicious day of Makar Sankranti we wishes everyone health, happiness and peace.
In Bengal we call it poush Sankranti and to celebrate these three days we prepare an array of sweet platter called pithe-puli with freshly harvested rice, new jaggery or notun gur and coconut. There are two kinds of rice, depending upon the method of dehusking, one is aatap or sun-dried and another one is seddho or par boiled.
As rice flour is one of the important component here, so many recipes of pithe use both the kind of rice to make fresh flour. Pithe made with freshly ground rice taste completely different from the ones that are made with store bought rice flour, as these are superfine in texture, similar to regular wheat flour.
In many homes, even now it is customary to make at least three different kind of pitha, the steamed ones like Akshay pitha which is as primeval as civilization itself, these are steamed rice cake with no stuffing and usually enjoys with jhola nolen gur or date palm jaggery syrup, followed by ranga aloor pithe (sweet potato is another winter harvest), bhaja pithe which is made with mug dal (also known as nonta pithe in some homes), dudh puli pithe (rice dumplings simmered in thickened milk) and all time favourite Gokul pithe, Lord Krishna’s favorite one. Apart from these the quintessential patishapta or rice crepes will be there too as without it no pithe parbon festival remains complete. Some also make nolen gur er payesh or rice pudding with date palm jagegry.
Dudh puli or dudh puli pithe has two variation, one without stuffing and another with stuffing. Many uses semolina or sooji along with rice flour to make this dudh puli pithe. Semolina makes it soft as rice flour when simmers in milk becomes little chewy. The stuffing for all kind of pithe remains very much the same with little personal variation added here and there. In any case it is prepared with coconut and jaggery.There is also a custom to make coconut jaggery balls / laddoo or gurer naru.
Now depending upon the type of coconut, some like to add milk to make it more moist. If the grated coconut is not milky and little on drier side, then while cooking, you can add few tablespoon warm milk to make it more moist. But if you are lucky to have milky coconut, the one that oozes out milk and is sweeter in taste, then no need to add extra milk to it. The coconut and jaggery mixture is spiced up with cardamom powder, I also uses a pinch of nutmeg powder too, it heightens the flavour to another level.
Check here how to prepare the stuffing of coconut and jaggery mixture for dudh puli
Before you start grating the coconut, put the milk to reduce as it is going to consume lots of time. To cut the reduction time, many uses condensed milk too, but in my humble opinion, that does not match with the flavour and taste you get after reducing the milk. If you want to use freshly ground rice, then sun dry the rice for good two hours and then grind it in mixer to desire texture, fine or superfine, both will work. Dudh puli pithe doesn’t reheat that well and once stored in refrigerate it lost its taste. So try to serve it fresh.
- Rice flour : 1 cup
- Boiling water : 1 cup or more
- Ghee : 2tbsp
- Salt : a small pinch
- Milk : 1.5 l
- Cardamom green : 4-5 pieces
- Jaggery (use date palm jaggery) : ½ cup
- Coconut : 4 cup
- Jaggery / gur: 2 cup or more
- Nutmeg powder : a pinch
- Bring the water to rolling boil and slowly add the rice flour sifted with salt in it.
- With the help of a ladle try to mix it as fast as possible
- Once it is mixed roughly, let it cool till the steam stops coming.
- Grease the finger with ghee and knead the dough while it is still hot.
- This is little difficult as the dough is hot, but thats the only way to do it.
- Once the dough is kneaded , it will be soft dough, cover it nicely with a damp kitchen towel until ready for use.
- Bring the milk to rapid boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer on low heat till it reduce to half its quantity.
- This will take half an hour.
- You can check previous post on how to prepare the stuffing
- Divide the dough into equal sizes and make small balls out of it.
- Flatten the dough and with the help of your palm and fingers, give it bowl like shape.
- Place the filling in the center, fold it like crescent moon shape.
- Wet your finger and seal the edges of the pithe, either by crimping the sides or with the help of fork.
- Put the puli in thickened milk, which you have kept in low heat.
- Let it simmer for 5-7 minute.
- Once cooked, the puli will float on top of the milk.
- Remove it and put another one in the milk.
- Depending upon the size of the vessel, you can make it in batches. But do not overcrowded it else it will break.
- Once all the puli is cooked through, remove them with slotted spoon and put it in serving dish.
- Reduce further the milk to desired consistency. Put off the flame. Add the jaggery and stir it well till the jaggery melts completely.
- Pour the thickened milk over the dudh puli.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Have blessed year ahead