Narkel Pakon Pitha ; Coconut and milk cake

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Pithas can be grouped under a dessert category which uses the newly harvested rice or the date palm jaggery. Winter end is the time when these ingredients are available. The ladies of the house usually remain busy whipping up a variety of desserts.

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Small wooden molds are available designed in folk tradition, like flower, conch shell, fish etc items that are abundant in nature. This takes ‘making Pithas’ to a folk art I’d say. In the absence of these delicate molds one can improvise use the back of a glass, cookie cutter or any other design at hand.

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I have used a flower motif here.

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This dessert can be made into a crispy version by adding the sugar into the ingredient before frying or a syrup dunked one by making a sugar syrup and dip them in it for a bit. Some like it crispy others prefer the melt in the mouth version. Take your pick.

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Recipe; Made 18 using 1 tbsp portion each

Ingredients:

Rice flour                                           1 cup

Ground coconut                                1 cup

Milk                                                   1 cup

Cardamom powder                            1/4 tsp

Sugar                                                 1 cup

Water                                                 2 cups

Method;

Make a sugar syrup with the above measurement. The sugar should just melt completely in the water. It doesn’t have to be thick.

Take a saucepan on high heat, add the milk. As soon as it is hot add the coconut powder, cover and cook till it comes to a boil. Crank the heat down. Add the rice flour and give it a nice mix. Throw in the cardamom powder, put the gas off and let it sit that way for 5 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a plate. Knead it into a smooth dough when it still is hot but can be handled. Divide into 18 small portion. Use a mold if you have or shape it as you want and fry them in medium heat till both sides have a light brown colour.

If you are going for the crispy version add about half cup sugar in the dough before frying.

The melt in the mouth version would require these to be dipped in the syrup for 15 minutes. Take them out of the syrup and collect them on a serving plate.

 

Lavang latika : Clove twisties.

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By  Ratna

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Celebrations  need  sweets.  Period.

In  as  much  as  we  write  volumes  about  the  bitter  side  of  sweets,  we  can’t  do  without  them.  Not  in  my  household.  You  see  my  husband  has  a  big  sweet  tooth. As  I  said  before,  the  innocent  enquiry   after  supper  about  the  leftover  sweets,  if  any,  actually  translates  to  can  I  have  some  sweets  right  now?

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Now  when  it  comes  to  birthdays,  there  is  no  denying  this  treat.  Can  we?   Payesh  or  rice  pudding  is  the  must  have  for  birthdays.

This  year  I  decided  to  be  a  bit  more  adventurous  for  his  birthday.

untitled-5  I  tried  my  hand  in  these  beauties.  They  are  variously  called  Lavang  latika  or   lobongo  lotika.  A   very  distant  cousin  of  Danish.  Maybe?

I  loosely  translated  it  to  Clove  twisties.

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It  is  a  pastry  with  filling  inside.  A  clove  is  strategically  placed  to  hold  things  in  place.  Deep  fried  and  then  dunked  in  sugar  syrup.  Crispy  to  bite  in.  A  couple  chews,  the  flaky  sweet  exterior  reveals  the  delicious  filling  inside.  The  ever  so  slight  crunch  still   left  from  the  coconut.

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Oh!  Who  am  I  fooling.  I  am  a  sucker  too  when  it  comes  to  the  deep  fried  and  syrup  dunked  combinations…

Recipe:  Made  12  pieces.

Ingredients;

Cloves                                                           12

Oil                                                                 As  needed  for  frying

For  the  pastry;

All  purpose  flour                                         1  cup

Canola  oil                                                     3  Tbsps

Water                                                           As   needed

For  the  filling;

Grated  coconut                                         3/4th  cup

Condensed  milk                                        1/2  cup

Milk  powder                                               1/2  cup

Cardamom  powder                                   1/4th  tsp

For  the  syrup;

Sugar                                                          1  cup

Water                                                          3/4  cup

Method;

Pastry;

In  a  bowl  mix  the  flour  and  3  Tbsps  oil.  Rub  the  flour  between  the  palm  of  your  hands.  It  should  hold  form  when  held  in  a  closed  fist.  Now  add  water  to  make  it  into  a  dough.  Cover  with  a  damp  cloth  and  let  it  sit  for  half  hour.

Filling;

In  a  pan  take  all  the  ingredients  listed  under  filling.  Keep  the  heat  on  medium.  Carefully  stir  the  mixture  till  it  forms  a  soft  dough,  about  4  minutes.  Turn  the  gas  off.  Work  while  the  mixture  is  still  warm,  to  make  12  small  balls.  I  had  a  bit  leftover.

Syrup;

Take  the  sugar  and  water  in  a  saucepan  on  high  heat.  Bring  it  to  a  boil.  Turn  the  gas  to  medium  now  and  let  it  simmer  for  about  3-4  minutes.  Pour  a  drop  of  this  syrup  in  a  bowl.  Wait  till  it  cools  down.  Touch  it  with  the  first  finger  and  thumb.  A  string  when  formed  as  the  fingers  are  taken  apart  indicates  the  syrup  is  done.

Assembling;

Divide  the  dough  in  12  balls.

Roll  one  ball  to  an  elliptical  shape,  not  round. Brush  the  surface  with  water.  Sit  the  filling  in  the  centre.  Press  gently.  It  will  make  the  filling  a  bit  elongated  and  stick  it  to  the  pastry.  Refer  to  the  picture  collage  above.  Fold  the  left  side  over  the  filling.  Press  at  the  folds.  Repeat  with  the  right  side.  Press  at  the  folds.  Turn  over.  Bring  the  top  and  bottom  half  of  the  pastry  together.  Press.  Add  a  clove  firmly  to  hold  things  together.

Take  about  an  inch  deep  oil  in  a  pan  on  high  heat.  Drop  a  pinch  of  dough  in  it.  The  oil  is  ready  when  it  floats  right  up.  Drop  the  lavang  latikas  carefully in  oil.  Crank  the  heat  down  to  medium.  Fry  till  golden.

I  fried  in  two  batches.

Dip  them  in  sugar  syrup  on  low  flame  for  a  minute.  Collect  them  on  a  bowl.

Inside  scoop;

Pressing  the  pastry  with  each  fold  ensures  that  it  won’t  open  up  while  frying.

Hot  sugar  syrup  can  take  skin  right  off.

If  the  filling  gets  very  firm,  add  a  tsp  of  milk  to  get  it  pliable  again.