I know I am lagging behind...pathetically!'Poush Parbon' or 'Makar Sankranti' just passed by last weekend and it is after all the excitement of biting into delectable pithes has dried down, that I found time to write a post!But ain't late better than never?Or that's what I'm told!So here's wishing everyone a (very) belated 'Makar Sankranti' and 'Poush Parbon'.
Being a quintessential Bengali I do have a sweet tooth - thats the good part!But the not-so-good part is that I have inherited, to some extent, the characteristic indolence of the Bong as well - specially when I know that my Maa (the great cook) will surely remember to rise to the occasion and churn out something terrific,in the event that I manage to fizzle out stealthily!
Based on this premise, I knocked on the door at my parents' place this weekend and waited patiently for someone to answer the door.The doorknob undone, I pried the door open and sniffed unabashedly to sense the heady aroma of coconut,cooking in sizzling amber-colored 'Gur', permeate my senses!As the sweet,somewhat intoxicating scent wafted across the apartment, I walked over to the kitchen space and just stopped short of admiring the whole treasure trove of love,affection and labor that lay before my eyes - Maa had been slaving the whole afternoon in the kitchen after getting all the things that she needed to mould her creation - and all of that just because she knew I would be visiting her!
My Maa is an innovation freak and I just wish I could have attained even half of her brilliant cooking ideas.As a kid,I would watch in awe how she would manage to rustle up something impromptu with whatever there would be there in the household,in case someone cared to drop in uninformed - which it would often be in those days!Not a soul left our place without being wonder struck at how quick Maa could be!I shudder to think what fiasco I might have done if ever in her shoes.Not all genes get automatically siphoned,do they?Not my fault!
So this day saw another of Maa's extremely creative ideas and it was 'Lobongo Loutika Pithe' this time! 'Lobongo Loutika' is a much-heard of sweetmeat, specially found in sweet shops by the street corner in North Kolkata. I know I have put an 'ou' instead of a simple 'a' but that is just to ensure that the 'Loutika' is pronounced as 'Loutika' as in 'Go' and not as 'Latika' as in 'Antartica'!It has a filling of 'Kheer' which is thick,evaporated milk,enfolded in a flour mould and deep fried in 'Ghee' or clarified butter.The prepared sweet is then drenched in sweet sugar syrup.The speciality of this sweet is that it is impaled with a single 'Lobongo' or clove before being fried and that brings a zing to the sweetmeat.
My Maa's version is christened 'Pithe' because it differs from the sweetmeat in the filling and the sugar syrup drench.The filling will have coconut instead of 'Kheer' and it will not be dipped into sugar syrup at the end.So for today's post, I will take liberty to post my Maa's very unique recipe of 'Lobongo Loutika Pithe'.Its not at all hard to make(believe me when I say that!) and is incredibly tasty!And it case you make and like it,you might give a silent word of appreciation to my Maa:)I'm sure she'll feel it in her heart!
Another favorite dessert recipe to go to 'Flavors of Bengal' event started by Nayna of 'Simply Food' and guest hosted by Priya of 'Mharo Rajasthan's Recipes'.Hope you have a sweet time!
Lobongo Loutika Pithe
You will need:
For the filling -
Grated/Dessicated coconut - About 200 gms (it reduces in volume when fried)
Date palm jaggery - 1 medium sized cups;Nolen gur is most preferred but any version would work
Khoya kheer - 50 gms
Clove powder - a pinch
Cardamom powder - a pinch
Nutmeg powder - a pinch
For the mould -
All-purpose flour - 250 gms
Baking powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Ghee or Refined oil - Ghee is better;But the calorie-conscious can opt for refined flour as well.
Whole cloves - As many pithes you will make;one for each
How to make it:
The filling -
1.Heat a tablespoon of Ghee in a shallow-bottomed pan.When hot,add the grated/desiccated coconut to the Ghee and turn gently with a wooden spatula.
2. When slightly cooked(the rawness of the coconut should disappear and the white color mellows down to a slight brownish tinge), add the Khoya kheer and keep on stirring.
3. When the Khoya khee is mixed well with the coconut, add in the date plam jaggery or 'Gur' and mix the whole concoction well.The mixture should turn a bit sticky now that the 'Gur' has been added.
4. When the coconut and khoya mixture is well-coated with the jaggery and starts becoming sticky, add a pinch of clove powder,cardamom powder and nutmeg powder.Take care that the filling remains soft and pliable and does not become overcooked.
5. When the ingredients are blended well ad the coconut if fully cooked and reduced,put off the fire and allow the filing to cool.
For the dough -
1. To the flour,add a tablespoon of Ghee or oil and baking powder and mix gently.Next add in 1 cup of lukewarm water and knead all the ingredients well to form a smooth dough.You may add more water for that, as and when required.
2.Cover the dough with a wet cloth and leave aside to set for 30-45 mins.
For the pithe-
1. Heat up 4 tablespoons of Ghee or oil in a deep-bottomed pan and allow it to heat nicely.
2. In the meantime, make small balls from the dough kept aside earlier, and with a rolling-pin,roll out the dough to form a roundish shape.
3. Place a tablespoon of the filling in the middle and then fold over any two opposite edges of the round over the filling,one on top of the other,turning it into a rectangular shape.
4. Now turn it over and holding the two opposite corners across the central filling,fold them towards the center,one on top of the other.
5. Where the two corners overlap,pierce with a whole clove,so that the folded corners are in place.
6. Create dumplings of the same shape with all the dough and filing and when the Ghee/oil is hot enough,deep fry the 'Pithe' to a slightly golden brown.
7. Serve hot with some 'Rabri' or 'Kheer' as accompaniment and watch the smiles of contentment with satisfaction!Happy Sankranti once again and take care!