Last Saturday, it was Bhogali Bihu and Sankranti, in the Northeast and Eastern parts of India. This is also known as ‘Paush Parbon’. A harvest festival, it celebrates plenitude and fertility. Notun chal (new rice, from the fresh harvest) is used to make many delicious sweets. Pitha, consisting of Patisapta and Malpua (Indian pancakes), is especially prepared at the time of the year when the sun moves into Utarayan (summer solstice). Sarika shares the Malpua recipe that she made during Sankranti, this year, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
Burning the Meji, late night sleep, dance music lavish feasts, lots of fun – this time of January month, memories down the lane. The harvest season in the state Assam named it as Bhogali Bihu. Born and raised in Assam, so very much attached to Bhogali Bihu. It falls immediately after English New Year, and drench us in different flavours and ranges of food. I am glad my childhood memories are still fresh and linger in my memory. Many things changed over the years from house, priorities, and responsibilities, thankfully I have beautiful childhood memories to cherish.
In family, it is celebrated with loads of traditional sweets called Pitha in Bengali. Pithas are not regular sweets only during Sankranti, special occasion and when special guests visit people made this.
The unique feature of this festival is most of the food/Pithas prepared with notun chaal (new rice-harvested freshly) jaggery and milk. Grandmother (maternal side) followed by maa used to prepare different types of Pithas during this festival. Now, we all are calorie conscious even my 10 years lad too. So, this year I prepared only two types of Pithas –
Patisapta and Mulpua just to keep the tradition alive. Sharing the recipe of Mulpua, which is very easy and very common in Bengali households.
Plain flour-1 cup
Sugar- 1/3 cup (can add more)
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp
Khoya – 1/2 cup
Baking powder – 1 fourth teaspoon
Oil for frying
Sugar – 1 cup
Water – half cup
Cardamom pods – 4
Take a wide pan and add all the ingredients and mixture to a boil for 5 minutes and turn off
the gas. Let the syrup cool to a room temperature.
Mix all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
Add milk to make a batter (pancake consistency)
Keep the mixture at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a big pan
Pour one big spoon at a time and fry both the side till golden in colour.
Soak each of the Malpua into the sugar syrup for few minutes and take it out and place on a
serving plate and garnish with pistachio.
©Sarika Sarkar Das
Photos by the author.