Its just a week to Sankranti and my kitchen is cooking a decadent spread of pithe and puli. And some divine payesh as well.
But just before you happily inferred that all pithes were sweet, here’s the delectable Dal Pitha. All the way from earthy Bihar.
Fragrant rice dumplings. Just a subltety of salt, maybe a sprinkle of cracked black pepper. With a delicious chana dal stuffing. Spiked with ginger and some wicked chillies. Perfumed with roasted cumin and an overload of fresh coriander.
Bliss for breakfast on a mist-cloaked winter morning.
Dal Pitha, Bihar Style (Rice Dumplings with a Spicy Dal Stuffing)
For the rice casing
- 1.5 cup gobindobhog rice
- 1 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp oil
For the dal stuffing
- 1 cup chana dal or bengal gram
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 3-4 green chilies chopped
- 1/4 cup coriander leaves chopped
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp roasted cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp dry mango or aamchur powder
- 2 tsp oil
- salt to taste
- Soak the rice for 2 hours, allow the rice to dry over a newspaper or muslin cloth to drain any excess water.
- Grind the rice to a fine powder, keep aside, covered with a cling film.
- Soak the chana dal overnight, drain, grind to a coarse paste.
- Heat oil in a frying pan, when smoking hot throw in the cumin seeds, allow to splutter. Add the ground dal, turmeric powder, chopped green chilies, grated ginger, salt, black pepper, aamchur powder and continue to cook over a low flame till the dal is cooked and the mixture is almost crumbly (but not too dry) in texture.
- Add the chopped coriander leaves and roasted cumin powder, give a hearty mix. Adjust seasonings. Remove from heat, keep aside.
- Take a pan, add 1 cup of water, add the oil and salt to the water. Bring to a boil. Lower the flame, add the rice powder to the boiling water, stirring continuously with a spatula. If it gets too dry, feel free to splash a little water and mix. Switch off the flame, give it a standing time of 10 odd minutes.
- Take the rice mixture on a greased plate, while it is still warm and it’s just comfortable enough to handle, knead it well to form a smooth dough. Cover with a wet cloth, keep aside.
- Now take a dough ball on your palm, press it gently in the middle using your thumb forming a small oval cup.
- Place a small portion of the dal mixture in the middle of the cup.
- Very gently bring the edges of the dough cup together to cover the stuffing.
- Press the edges gently with the back of a fork. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
- Place the pithas on a greased steamer, steam for 8-10 minutes.
- Serve hot with your choice of chutneys.