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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Bengal's 'Pitha' is slowly going into oblivion

    Makar Sankranti is over. It is the Bengali month of 'Magh'. Before and after the Makar Sankranti, Bengalis used to take Pitha. Oh! it's a delicious item. There were various types of Pitha of different tastes and different sizes. Most of the Pithas are sweet, but there are some Pithas which can be taken as snacks.

    Pithas are made from rice flour or wheat flour. These are then filled with sweet or savoury ingredients. The filling of the Pithas is called 'pur' (there is no appropriate English substitute). For the preparation of vegetable Pithas, cauliflower, cabbage or potato are fried or steamed, and then mashed and formed into small balls for stuffing. Sweet Pithas contain sugar, jaggery, date juice or palm syrup and are filled with grated coconut and pistachios.

    But now the life of the Bengalis has become very busy. Bengali ladies no longer prepare Pithas. Bengali children don't get an opportunity to relish Pithas.

    This special and delicious food-item of Bengal is slowly going into oblivion.
  • #656897
    That is the fate of many traditional dishes in different parts of our country and they are slowly going to become a thing of past.

    Long back, I had tasted this dish or equivalent to it in Assam and if I remember correctly they also called it Pitha. It was a white sort of small crisp sweet chapati and we had it with some side vegetable that I do not remember now.

    One thing I will like to mention here as my observation is that the dishes which are commercialized and are returning good revenue to the hotels and restaurants are not going in oblivion rather coming in the market in newer and newer shapes even in their fusion forms with other dishes.

    The example of this is Dosa which was originally a Southern Indian dish but now it is available all across the country in myriad forms. So there is a commercial angle also to these things.

    Knowledge is power.

  • #656906

    As we have been discussing in another recent thread, I think we are losing out on many of our traditional snacks and dishes due to the lack of time/ interest that we have developed over a period of time. Just like the Pitha that the author mentioned, there are so many sweets, snacks and some other age-old dishes that are slowly disappearing from the kitchen. With the advent of fast food and the recent invasion by home-deliveries, households have started finding it convenient and easy to purchase readymade items (newer versions that are trendy) instead of making some at home. In the olden days our mothers and grandmothers had enough time with them, and more than that they had the interest, to prepare delicacies and feed the family members. Times have changed and we may have to be satisfied with the old memories. I hope there would be some effort to at least record the recipe of such dishes so that, in case, someone who may want to try it out in future will stand guided.

    'Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance' - Confucious.

  • #656907
    Past is the past, and we cannot get any such dish. Our good old ladies were expert cooks to prepare varieties of dishes to feed their family members. They had enjoyed the pleasure of cooking. These days, the young ladies spend their good time watching Mega serials and movies on TV. Where is time for them to think about delicious dishes?

    My grandmother and mother used to make a dish called ' Kolukattai', a rice dish stuffed with sweet items. It has many variants. I am missing it very badly.

    No life without Sun

  • #656909
    What Mr. Umesh enjoyed in Assam is most probably a 'pati-sapta' (one of the hundreds of varieties of Pitha. It is true that some restaurants are doing great business by preparing and offering these traditional food items.

    Although in earlier days preparing Pitha was a time-consuming affair, but now all middle-class kitchens have mixer-cum-grinder. I think this has made Pitha-making less time-consuming. But even then this item is going to oblivion.

    Come on, have a fight. Don't shoot and scoot.

  • #656922
    There has been rapid progress in almost all the fields and so is the case with the hotels where different dishes containing savoury items are prepared and customers are lured with the preparation of such items. So when we talk of pithas being used in old days using different materials such as mashed potatoes, cauliflower, Cabages etc with the external cover of rice powder baked properly with the steam and relishing such savoury products were really mouth - watering which cannot be enjoyed with the costly foods being served at present in any branded hotel.
    In fact, the ladies in the old days had enough time to prepare the popular dishes with the full devotion and in turn they expected appreciation from their opposite counterparts for their genuine interest but with the rolling of the time such dishes have lost flavours due to indifferent attitude of the ladies including the paucity of time because of their job- pressure.

  • #656940
    Even in Ahndra, many traditional dishes are going out and many people these days even don't know these dishes. The description given by the author resembles a dish made in our Andhra also. The outer part of the item is made of rice flour or wheat flour. Inside the vegetable curry or a sweet made with coconut or til will be stuffed. These items are then fried in oil. We used to call them Bondas in our place. But nobody is making this item these days. Anyhow now vegetable biryani, Veg biryani are becoming very popular. Consumption of sweets is coming down these days.
    always confident

  • #656957
    It is true that nowadays a very few prepare Pitha at their homes. Earlier it was really time-consuming as people used only their hands for doing the mashing and mixing. Now there are various mixer-grinders available for this purpose but people do not have enough time for preparing those dishes.

    What I feel, cooking traditional dishes is a passion and those who are passionate enough are still preparing Pithas at their homes. Because of the popularity of Pithas, many sweetmeat shops are selling some varieties of Pithas during the winter season in West Bengal but the taste of home-made varieties is incomparable to those available in the shops. Last Sunday, I was moving around my locality with my friends and I found an elderly lady selling a few varieties of Pithas at the corner of a road. We tasted one of the varieties and it was really good. Though not many people are preparing Pithas during this time of the year, the craze for them is still there among the Bengalis.


    "Life is easier when you enjoy what you do"

  • #657027

    Makar Sankranti is also known as Poush Sankranti. There are specific food items which Bengalis prepare on this occasion. Usually, during this time date jaggery is used for sweetening, and its aroma adds to the flavour of the sweet dish.

    As mentioned in the thread that Pitha, a sweet dish, also known as patishapta along with puli and payesh are made. People love to eat them. I have also prepared pitha this year not because it is a special dish for this festival, but I prepare, it to make my son eat, taste and have knowledge about the traditional dishes of Bengalis.

    My sister too prepared it, and I think, we ourselves enjoyed eating such sweetmeats when our mother prepared it, so now we want our next generation to taste it and fall in love with it.

    I believe it's not about having time to prepare our traditional dish rather one should have the knack to eat and make others taste and eat our age-old dishes.


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