Steamed Cake (Bhapa Pitha)

Submitted by:
Nusrat Sultana, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Image Source: Author

Ingredients

2 cups rice flour
1 1/2 cups fresh coconut (or desiccated coconut, unsweetened)
1/2 cup water, additional for steaming
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup date molasses, coarsely broken into small pieces
1/2 cup milk, if using desiccated coconut (optional)

Items Needed:
2 pieces of white muslin or cheese cloth, about the size of a standard paper napkin
A deep, small, round bowl to shape pitha
Special bhapa pitha making pot or saucepan and aluminum foil

Pitha:

1. Shift flour. Add salt. Add 1/2 cup coconut. Sprinkle small amount of water at a time on the flour mixture to dampen the flour. The flour mixture should neither be like a dough nor like a batter but just wet. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.

2. If using desiccated coconut, add the milk and dampen the coconut. Set aside.

3. Take water in a separate bowl and soak the muslin or cheese cloth pieces. Set aside.

4. Shift the damp flour again through a strainer. You will likely have to sieve the wet flour through the strainer with the help of your palm.

5. Boil some water in the pitha making pan by covering the pan with a lid. Proceed to pitha making steps as vapor appears through the holes.



Make and steam pitha:

1. Depending on the size of the bowl, spread flour mixture in the small bowl lightly in a way that only half the bowl is covered.

2. Place some coconut and molasses at the center of the bowl.

3. Cover the molasses and coconut by spreading more damp flour.

4. Take one of the muslins from water, squeeze out water and spread the wet cloth on the bowl of flour.

5. Gather the corners of the cloth with the bowl inside and carefully flip the bowl with the help of the cloth on the holes of the pitha making pan. The bowl should now be upside down on the holes of the pan.

6. Carefully take out the bowl, gather the corners on top of the flour mixture. The piece of cloth will hold the bowl shaped pitha.

7. Steam cook for 6-8 minutes.

8. Carefully unwrap the pitha from the cloth and place in a plate with the help of a spatula or spoon.

9. Add the hot cloth back to water bowl to soak. Using the second piece of cloth repeat the steps for next pitha. For each steps the cloths needs to be clean

Background

This cake is specially made during the winter morning. From my childhood my mother attracted us to get up from our deep sound sleep of winter morning (usually very difficult to get up) with this cake. Another reason of making this cake during the winter is because, this is also the season when date palm jaggery, also known as Khejur Gur (a Bengali winter delicacy) famous for its aroma, is made from the juice of date palm tree, while date palm jaggery is a special ingredient to make this cake. However, sugarcane jaggery can also be used to make this cake.

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