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Pitha is a type of palm-sized fritter, pancake, pastry or dumpling from the eastern regions of the Indian subcontinent, common in Bangladesh and India. Pitha can be sweet or savoury, and usually made from a dough or batter, which is then steamed, fried or griddled. Very few varieties are oven-baked or boiled, and most are unleavened and cooked on a stovetop (or equivalent). Some versions may have a filling, garnish, or sauce. Few may be set or shaped after cooking. They are typically eaten as a snack with chai, or as treats during special occasions (similar to mithai).
|Course||Whole meal, snack or dessert|
|Place of origin||Indian subcontinent|
|Region or state||Bangladesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Odisha, Tripura, West Bengal|
|Associated national cuisine||India, Bangladesh, Nepal|
|Main ingredients||Rice flour or wheat flour|
Pitha is especially popular in Bangladesh and the eastern Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, the South Indian state of Kerala, and the Northeast Indian states, especially Assam. Pithas are typically made of rice flour, although there are some types of pitha made of wheat flour. Less common types of pitha are made of palm or ol (a local root vegetable).
Pithas are primarily made from a batter of rice flour or wheat flour, which is shaped and optionally filled with sweet or savory ingredients. When filled, the pitha's pouch is called a khol (literally "container") and the fillings are called pur.
For stuffed vegetable pithas, ingredients such as cauliflower, cabbage, radish, or potato are usually fried, baked, or steamed, and then mashed, cooled, and formed into small balls to stuff into the pithas.
Sweet pithas typically contain sugar, jaggery, date juice, or palm syrup, and can be filled with grated coconut, fried or roasted sesame seeds, cashews, pistachios, sweetened vegetables, or fruits. Sweet pithas are also often flavored using cardamom or camphor.
Pithas vary considerably across the regions of the eastern Indian subcontinent.
In Assam, pitha is a special class of rice preparation generally made only on special occasions like Bihu. Assamese pithas are often made from bora saul, a special kind of glutinous rice, or xaali saul, or sun-dried rice. Some pithas commonly found in Assam include the following:
- কাঁচি পিঠা Kachi pitha (lit. "Sickle pitha"): a pan baked pancake made from bora saul and filled with sesame seeds, ground coconut, dried orange rind, and jaggery. The sickle is known as " Kachi" in Assamese and hence the name.
- ঘিলা পিঠা Ghila pitha (lit. "knee pitha"): a fried pitha made from bora saul and jaggery. Salt can also be used instead of jaggery for a savory variant.
- চুঙা পিঠা Sunga pitha: a special pitha made with both xaali saul and bora saul, which are mixed with water and jaggery and churned thoroughly before being placed in a young bamboo tube corked with banana leaf and roasted in fire. The resulting tube-shaped cake is then cut into pieces and served with hot milk.
- টেকেলি পিঠা Tekeli pitha (lit. "earthenware pitha"): a special pitha made with both xaali saul and bora saul, mixed with coconut, sugar, and powdered milk. Ground cardamom and dried orange rind can also be added. The pitha is steamed in an earthenware pot or a kettle set on a hearth.
- উহোৱা পিঠা Uhuwa pitha: Rice flour of Xaali Saul and Bora Saul is mixed with jaggery or salt and water and churned thoroughly. The paste is rolled into small balls and flattened and then boiled in water. It is served with tea and also can be eaten with milk.
- কেটলি পিঠা Ketli pitha: The method of preparation, as well as the substance, is as same as tekeli pitha, but a kettle is used here instead of the earthenware. That’s the reason it is called Ketli pitha (Ketli in Assamese means kettle). Here the kettle-cork is kept upside down on the kettle and the substance is put on it. It usually takes less time to be baked than tekeli pitha takes.
- তিল পিঠা Til pitha: This is made with sesame and rice. The rice flour is spread in a circle on a pan, basically made of cast iron and heated. The roasted sesame seeds are placed in the circle along with sugar or jaggery and rolled. These are cylindrical shaped, more like a cigar.
- তেল পিঠা Tel pitha: The pitha is fried in oil.
- নাৰিকল দিয়া পিঠা Narikol diya pitha
- সুতুলি পিঠা Xutuli pitha
- ধূপ পিঠা Dhup pitha, also known as Bhapa pitha
- ভাপতদিয়া পিঠা Bhapotdiya pitha
- লখিমী পিঠা Lakhimi pitha
- তৰা পিঠা Tora pitha
- মুঠিয়া পিঠা Muthiya pitha
- খোলাচাপৰি পিঠা Kholasapori pitha
- লস্কৰা Laskara
- আঙ্গুলি পিঠা Anguli Pitha: In Assamese language, ‘anguli’ means finger while ‘pitha’ is a type of rice cake. ‘Anguli Pitha’ has got its name from the fact that the pithas are shaped like fingers.
In Odisha, Pithas (Odia: ପିଠା) are special delicacies in an Odia home. On traditional festivals, sweet pithas form a part of the celebrations. Pithas are also routinely prepared and served in Odia homes in normal days. The pitha may be broadly put in the category cakes. Some pithas may also be savoury in taste. Some Odia pithas include the following:
- Arisa Pitha (Odia: ଆରିସା ପିଠା): deep-fried pitha made from rice flour with jaggery or sugar.
- Manda Pitha (Odia: ମଣ୍ଡା ପିଠା): steamed or deep-fried pitha made from rice flour or semolina, often with grated coconut and jaggery/sugar filling or fresh cheese (chhena) filling. A manda pitha without filling is called "Suanli" (Odia: ସୁଆଁଳି).
- Kakara pitha (Odia: କାକରା ପିଠା): very popular fried pancake made from wheat flour/semolina, often with a sweet coconut filling.
- Enduri Pitha (Odia: ଏଣ୍ଡୁରି ପିଠା): pitha made from rice flour and black gram, often with a jaggery and coconut or cheese filling, steamed in a turmeric leaf. Enduri pitha is a special delicacy of the Prathamastami festival.
- Chakuli Pitha (Odia: ଚକୁଳି ପିଠା): thin/thick pancake (set dosa) made from fermented rice and black gram, often eaten for breakfast. Thinner varieties are called saru chakuli, and resemble plain dosas. Often served with dalama (Odia: ଡାଲମା) (vegetable mixed with pulses)nadia chatni (coconut chutney) or kheeri (Odia: ଖିରି), a rice dish.
- Poḍo piṭha (Odia: ପୋଡ଼ ପିଠା) (lit. "burnt pitha"): slow-cooked pitha made from fermented rice and black gram, with chopped coconut. Its crust is slightly burnt, while the inside is soft and white, mostly during Raja Parba.
- Ruka Pitha (Odia: ଋକା ପିଠା): After the leftover of arisa paste, water is added to it to make it thin and pour it into oil which is known as "Rukeiba" not "Andaleiba" and hence Ruka pithaa is made. It is softer than arisa at the middle of it and very crispy at the corner.
- Chitau piṭha (Odia: ଚିତଉ ପିଠା): fried pancake made from rice flour, coconut, and milk, often offered in pujas to Lord Jagannath on Chitalagi Amabasya (or Chitau Amabasya).
- Gaintha godi (Odia: ଗଇଁଠା ଗୋଡ଼ି): Small balls made of rice flour dipped in seasoned sweet milk.
- Karanji (Odia: କରଞ୍ଜି): A dumpling made of maida and stuffed with coconut, cashew raisins and fried in ghee.
- Malpua (Odia: ମାଲପୁଆ): Sweetened deep-fried batter of a mixture of bananas and flour
- Suji Kakara Pitha (Odia: ସୁଜି କାକରା ପିଠା): A sweet dish made of suji with coconut stuffing
- Tala Pitha (Odia: ତାଳ ପିଠା): A sweet dish made of palm fruit and rice batter
- Chunchipatra Pitha (Odia: ଛୁଞ୍ଚିପତ୍ର ପିଠା): A pitha made by sprinkling the batter onto a kadai/pan and putting a stuffing made of grated coconut, jaggery/sugar, elaichi.
Pitha (Devanagari: पिट्ठा) is also the part of Bihari cuisine particularly in Mithila region of Bihar. Mainly the rice flour pitha is popular in Bihar and two varieties of stuffed (sweet or salty stuffing) or unstuffed pitha are consumed.
In Bangladesh, West Bengal, TripuraEdit
While some pitha can be made at any time of the year in Bengal (Bangladesh and Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam’s Barak Valley), there are special pitha strongly associated with harvest festivals such as Nabanna (Bengali: নবান্ন nôbanno, literally "new rice" or "new food") and the Poush parbon or Makar Sankranti, celebrated on January 14 every year. During the autumn and winter seasons, festivals dedicated to pitha called pitha mela or pitha utshob are held locally all over Bangladesh.
Some common ingredients in pitha are rice flour, milk, coconut and jaggery. It is often served with sweet syrups such as date tree molasses (Bengali: খেজুরের গুড় khejurer guṛ). A few of the most common pitha found in Bengal include the following:
- তেলের পিঠা Teler piṭha (lit. "oil pitha"), also known as Malpua or shondesh (not to be confused with the Bengali sweet)
- Nuner pitha
- ভাপা পিঠা Bhapa piṭha (lit. "steamed pitha") or dhupi
- Pakan piṭha: fried
- পুলি পিঠা Puli piṭha: dumplings
- বেনি পিঠা Beni piṭha (lit. "braid pitha")
- দুধের পিঠা Dudher piṭha (lit. "milk pitha") or ভিজা পিঠা bhija piṭha (lit. "wet pitha")
- চন্দ্র পুলি Chôndro puli
- মুগের পুলি Muger puli
- দুধ পুলি Dudh puli
- Nokshi pitha
- Paṭi shapta or Patibola পাটিবলা (thin crepes stuffed with jaggery and coconut)
- Taal pitha (made of Asian palmyra palm fruits)
- Mug pakon
- Chui Pitha or Chutki Pitha (Traditional Old Dhaka Pitha)
- Citoi Pitha
- Pata pitha
- Lonbongo Lotika