The rice-harvest festival in Bengal, poush sankranti, is celebrated by making the most wondrous of sweets—the pithe. This is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of items prepared using rice, date-palm syrup (patali gur, only available in winter), coconut, milk, and flour. Pithe is no single dish, but a category of sweets that are part of the Bengali cooking tradition dedicated exclusively to turning the season’s harvest into delectable foods.
Patishapta is a type of pithe. It is a light crêpe filled with either kheer or a coconut-and-gur mixture. In this recipe, we show you how to make the version with kheer.
FOR THE CRÊPE
- 75 g maida (flour)
- 30 g sooji (semolina)
- 10 g rice grains
- 280 g milk
- ¼ tsp salt
- 30 g sugar
- 5 g ghee (for greasing)
FOR THE KHEER (FILLING)
- 1.5 kg milk
- 65 g sugar
- 1 tsp maida (flour)
STEP I—MAKE THE CRÊPE BATTER
- Add the rice grains to an electric grinder and blitz them to a fine powder. You now have rice flour.
- In a mixing bowl, add the maida (75 g), sooji (30 g), rice flour (10 g), sugar (30 g), salt (¼ tsp), and milk (280 g).
- Mix the ingredients together till they are more or less combined. Do not over-mix or your crêpes may turn out chewy.
- Cover the batter and set it aside to rest, for 2 hours. This will allow time for the sooji to swell up and the sugar to melt.
- While your batter is resting, prepare the kheer, which will form the filling for our patishapta.
STEP II—MAKE THE KHEER [WATCH HOW TO MAKE KHEER]
- Take 1.5 kg milk in a heavy-bottom saucepan and set it to boil.
- Once bubbling, stir in 65 g sugar.
- Keep boiling the milk, while stirring it continuously, for about 90 minutes.
- During this entire time, the pot should be on medium to low heat.
- At regular intervals of 3–4 minutes, be sure to scrape the solids from the bottom and sides of the pot, and incorporate them into the boiling milk. This step, as well as the previous one, is crucial. We don’t want our kheer to burn at any point.
- Once the milk has thickened such that when you lift some of it on your spoon and drop it, it falls in clumps, make a paste of 1 tsp flour and 1 tbsp milk.
- Add this paste to the pot. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Allow the kheer to cool before proceeding to the next stage.
STEP III—MAKE THE PATISHAPTA
- Divide the kheer in equal portions of 22 g each.
- Give your batter a quick stir till it is uniform.
- Now, set a non-stick pan on medium-low flame and allow it to heat up completely.
- Once the pan is hot, smear it with a very, very light coating of ghee(remember, we are already using a non-stick pan).
- Using a ladle, take about 25 g of the batter and drop it in the centre of the pan.
- Swirl it around gradually to form a thin crêpe, about 12 cm in diameter.
- Roll a portion of the kheer between your palms to form a log (about 8 cm long), and flatten it with your fingers.
- Place it at one end of the crêpe and start folding the crêpe into a roll, with the help of a spatula. [Note that we are cooking only one side of the crêpe.]
- Transfer the patishapta from the pan to a plate and proceed making the rest. These can be eaten hot, or they can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.