I grew up in Assam, where Makar sankranti is celebrated as bhogali bihu, which is mainly a harvest festival and marks the end of harvesting seasons. Bhogali means eating and enjoyment.
On the eve of makar sankranti or bhogali bihu we used to make a Meji (a straw house) with hay of the harvest fields. The entire night is spent in and around the meji, there used to be a grand feast that night. The next day we take bath and burn the meji and pray to God. Ancient belief is that meji burns the winter out. And then starts the pitha eating day. A whole day where you will get to eat lots of pithe.
I and dada used to run before dinner time between home and meji to see what pithas are being made at home. The night before makar sankranti both maa and Bamma (grandmom) used to make pithe for the next day, patisapta, doodh puli, rosbora, ranaglur puli pithe, natur gurer payesh and list goes on and on.
So many old gold memories come with the name doodh puli. It is one of the most delicious mom made pithe. It can be made out of both rice flour / semolina and can be described as a dumpling with coconut filling cooked with jaggery and boiled cardamom infused reduced milk.
Sujir doodh puli (semolina dumplings with stuffed coconut)
- 1.5 cups semolina suji of or
- 1.5 cup coconut fresh scrapping
- 200 g date palm jaggery or nolen gur grated
- 2 litre cow milk
- 2 tsp ghee
- to taste sugar
- Mix the grated coconut and jaggery in a pan, cook over a low flame, stirring occasionally. Till the jaggery is well incorporated into the coconut and it turns a bit sticky. 7-10 odd minutes I would reckon. Remove from heat.
- Take a pan, add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Add 2 tsp ghee, lower the flame, add the semolina to the boiling water, stirring continuously to form a thick batter. Keep stirring the batter to prevent lumps from forming. Continue to cook till the semolina is cooked and the batter has turned into a soft dough.
- Allow the dough to cool just enough for you to handle, shape into small balls, 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 coconut-jaggery 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.
- Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, let it simmer over a low flame till it reduces to little more than one third in volume. Stir frequently.
- Gently add the dumplings one by one into the milk. Cook over a low flame for about 10-12 mins. Stir the milk very carefully a couple of times in between.
- Lower the flame, add the remaining grated jaggery. Give it a hearty stir, continue to cook till the jaggery has melted. (If you like it sweeter, feel free to indulge - add some more grated jaggery !!)
- Allow to cool to room temperature and serve.