Ranga Alur Puli Pithe, Festival Delicacy from Bengal
Explore a No- Fry version of a traditional Festival Delicacy from Bengal Ranga Alur Puli Pithe, Sweet Potato dumplings. It is customary to make this dessert during the festival of Makar Sankranti which is just a few days away.
Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the Sun into Makara Rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path.This is the festival of Harvest. It is time to explore the culinary diversity across regions since each State in India has its own delicacies prepared for this festival.
In Bengal, the celebration of Poush Sankranti involves preparing an array of sweet platters. These sweets use freshly harvested Paddy, new Jaggery or Notun Gur, coconut and sweet potato which is a winter harvest.
This delicious dessert is an offering from Bengal. Come Sankranti or Poush Sankranti, it is the customary pithe time in the eastern part of India. Every household prepares many different varieties of pithas. Ranga Alu means sweet Potato in Bangla. Ranga Alur Puli Pithe has multiple layers. Sweet potato forms the outer layer whereas the center layer consists of Coconut and Date Palm. The outermost coating uses Date Palm Jaggery as a soaking syrup.
Star Ingredient in this Recipe
The star ingredient for this recipe is Date Palm Jaggery. There are other popular names for Date Palm Jaggery like Khejurer Gur, Nolen Gur or Patali Gur. This seasonal produce occupies a place of pride in Bengal’s already accomplished sweet-making history. The early morning sap of the date palm trees is what becomes Patali Gur. This is a popular ingredient in sweets and dishes in the states of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.
You can eat Date palm jaggery as nolen gur — the softer, golden coloured gur. The sap collection happens in a special type of Pipe or nol. Also nolen stands for new. Hence the name nolen gur.
The other form of this jaggery is Jhola gur, where the sap is reduced to make liquid gur. Khejurer gur has now become a part of fine dining and has inspired several refined sweets.
Some pictures of Jaggery making process in Patamda village in Jharkhand State.
Photo Courtesy : Brikesh Singh
Traditionally the process of making Ranga Alur Puli Pithe involves deep frying the pithas and then soaking them in syrup. I have tried to present a No-fry version of Ranga Alur Puli Pithe rather than deep frying.
Hope you will try this Bengali delicacy this Sankranti and leave me your comments and feedback.
India is a land of festivals.Please check some other festival recipes of mine here.
Ingredients for the stuffing
- 2 cups Grated fresh coconut
- 1 cup Date Palm Jaggery
- ¼ cup Coconut Milk You can use regular milk for thenon vegan version.
- ¼ tsp cardamom powder
Ingredients for the shell
- 500 gms Sweet Potatoes
- 1 tbsp Rice flour
- ¼ tsp Salt
- few drops Oil (to apply onto palm while making puli)
Ingredients for the soaking syrup
- 1 cup Date Palm Jaggery
- 2 cups Water
Prepare the stuffing
- Heat a Pan. Add grated coconut to it.
- Add milk to it and stir for a few minutes.
- Take one cup Date Palm jaggery pieces in a microwave safe container.
- Microwave for 2 minutes. The jaggery will melt.
- Strain and add this to coconut.
- Stir and keep cooking till the mixture becomes slightly thick. Don't make it too dry as otherwise it will harden once cool.
- Add cardamom powder.
- Mix and keep aside this stuffing for later use.
Prepare the Pithe
- Fill water in a pressure cooker. Or use any pan.
- Keep a steamer plate inside it.
- Keep sweet potatoes on the steamer plate.
- Put the lid on and cook for about 5 whistles or till sweet potatoes become tender.
- Peel and add steamed potatoes to a pan.
- Mash with a fork or a masher to make a smooth paste.
- Add Salt.
- Add rice flour in batches (about 2 tbsp at a time) and knead to make a soft dough.
- Make a smooth dough. Refrigerate dough for about half an hour so that it becomes slightly stiff. It will be easier to make dumplings then.
- Apply some oil on your palm and pinch a lemon sized dough ball.
- Make a dent in the center using your thumb.
- Then spread the corners using fingertips and form a round shell.
- Fill a tbsp of filling in the center and fold to form a semicircle.
- Press and seal edges.
- Roll gently between palms to form oblong pitha.
- The prepared pitha will be like this.
- Arrange prepared pithas on a plate.
- Traditionally pithas are deep fried in oil or ghee. For a healthier option, you can shallow fry by adding 2-3 tbsp of ghee to a pan.
- You can also bake pithas. To bake, arrange them on a baking tray.
- Brush with melted ghee on both sides.
- Bake in a preheated oven @425°F/ 220°C for 20 minutes on one side.
- Turn and bake again for 10 minutes.
Prepare soaking syrup
- Add 1 cup of Jaggery pieces to a Pan.
- Add 2 cups of water and heat till jaggery melts.
- Strain this to another pan.
- Cook the jaggery water for 5 minutes. There is no need to thicken it. It should remain warm.
- Add baked or shallow fried pithas to warm syrup.
- Let them be in the syrup for 5 minutes.
- Take out and serve. Add some syrup as well while serving. Garnish with any nut of your choice.
12 servings per container
- Amount Per ServingCalories196
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat
- Saturated Fat 5.02g 26%
- Cholesterol 3.54mg 2%
- Sodium 61.49mg 3%
- Potassium 184.67mg 6%
- Total Carbohydrate
- Dietary Fiber 2.42g 10%
- Sugars 26.26g
- Protein 1.35g 3%
* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.