Ranga aloo r rosher pitha / mishti aloo r pithe puli :
are sweet potato dumplings which are stuffed with coconut sweetened with jaggery and then deep fried and dunked in light syrup. These are special sweets or pithe puli that we prepare for Sankranti.
Festivals are living museum of Nation’s culture and traditions. It is like a window to each other’s culture, rituals and traditions, especially in culturally diversified country like India, where each of the corner of the country celebrate Makar Sankranti in its own way, yet the ritualism and traditions are so different from each other and off course the wide array of food platter. Food has an incredible power to connect back to our roots, it narrate stories of forgotten traditions, folklore and many such memoirs that brings us closer to our family, to our ancestors, and to our native.
Like this “Tusu festival” of rural Bengal. Recently while looking for a book on food and traditions I had come across this piece -” Tusu is folk goddess and it is one of the most important village festival of rural West Bengal. Also prevalent in Easten Bihar / Jharkand, Chota Nagpur area and in the deltaic region of Suvarnarekha river. The major ritual is a procession involving symbols of the Goddess (special rice balls) carried in paper chariots….” This festival starts in the last day of agrahyan / or mid-December and ends at the last day of poush / or mid-January. It celebrates the end of harvest time. Before prepping up for the nest season of Spring, small bundles of grains are made for next year’s crop and put into the granary.
To celebrate the harvest, variety of sweet dishes are prepared with freshly harvested paddy, jhola gur, or date palm syrup and in form of jaggery too, known as patali gur in Bengali and coconut. This highlights the abundance of these three crops in the coastal and deltaic region of Bengal, paddy, date palms and coconut trees. It is also important to eat one root crop like yam or sweet potato. The Bengali gourmet however has chosen sweet potatoes over yams, but in rural places yam still dominates over sweet potatoes.
There was a tradition of making at least three kind of pithe in my family, one bhapa pithe, rosh pithe (dunked in sugar syrup) and bhaja pithe (fried ones) apart from making patishapta. Sometimes Ma also makes sheddo pithe and dudh puli if she get some extra time, which anyways she manages to find always. In my ancestral home in Dhaka, I have heard stories about pithe -parbon that lasts for three days and variety of pithe-puli platter (at least two dozens variety) used to be served to the invited guests. Some of the recipes were handed down in oral narration to my Ma and some were simply lost with time. Of all this, my personal favourite one is ranga aloo r rosh pitha, the tradition that flows uninterrupted since last three generation in my family. So every Sankranti like a ritual I made this one, I may skip the others but not this one. And every time it makes me feel happy that it connects me back to my roots.
Check here how to prepare the stuffing of coconut and jaggery mixture for Mishti aloo r puli.
- Sweet potato / mishti aloo : 500 gm
- Rice flour : 2 tbsp
- All purpose flour : 1 tbsp
- Salt : a small pinch
- Please refer the above given link
- Sugar : 1 cup
- Water : 2 cup
- Green cardamom : 2-3
- Oil for deep frying
- Boil the sweet potatoes. Do not over boil and do not under boil the sweet potatoes. When boiled perfectly, the sweet potatoes will be firm, not mushy and still yield easily to masher.
Best is to steam the sweet potatoes. That way the sweet potatoes will be very firm, and yet can be mashed easily.
- Over boiling the sweet potatoes will result in absorbing too much flour and will be very messy to handle.
- Peel the skin and mash the sweet potatoes with the hand. Make sure there are no lumps in it. Even there should not be any small or tiny lumps.
- Add the flour (rice and all purpose), salt and knead them together to make a smooth dough.
- Now pinch lemon size ball out of it, flatten it on your palm. Add two teaspoon of filling, press it evenly.
- Fold it like an empanada or crescent shapes. Pinch the sides with the fingers or crimp the sides with fork. Leave aside.
- Finish making all the dumplings.
- Meanwhile make the syrup by adding water and sugar. Throw in some green cardamoms. Boil it till you get one string consistency or is enough to coat the back of your spoon.
- Keep the syrup warm.
- Heat enough oil for deep frying.
- Depending upon the size of your vessel, add the puli / dumplings. Do not overcrowd it.
- Fry the both sides till you get nice golden hue.
- Once fried, slot them out and dunked them immediately in warm syrup.
- Use a wide bottom vessel to keep the sweet dish. As the puli will soak more syrup and become heavier, they will become soft also. So stacking them one above other is not good idea.
Have lovely days ahead