Shora pitha, also known as chitoi pithe, is a rustic rice dumpling that is made in winter, especially around the time of Sankranti, the winter harvest festival. In our family, my thamma Durga made this only once (or twice) a year on the coldest January afternoon. It was one of those rare occasions when the clay oven (unoon) was lit. The shora—which is the round terracotta mould in which this pithe is made—was taken out of storage and cleaned. We sat around in the heat of the clay unoon watching thamma pour ladles of rice batter into the mould, as the mound of rice dumplings grew tall. Finally, we dunked the smoky shora pithe in jhola gur—liquid date-palm jaggery that is only available in winter—and devoured them by the dozens until our stomachs hurt. The ritual and fanfare of making the pithe are at least half the fun of eating them.
- 1 kg rice (non-fragrant, parboiled)
- 25 g salt
- 1.8 L hot water
- Wash and rinse the rice 4–5 times, until the water runs clean. Soak rice overnight in boiling hot water. This will par-cook the rice and make the pithe soft.
- The next morning, strain the rice, and grind it using hot water. Keep adding the rice and hot water gradually. We use a wet grinder like the kind used for dosa and idli batters. You can use your regular electric grinder or a sheel nora. The rice has to be ground to a smooth paste. We ended up using a total of 1.8 L of hot water to adjust the consistency of the batter.
- Add salt.
- Place the shora (terracotta mould) on the clay oven or gas stove. If the shora is new, you will need to season it with salt first. When the salt has heated through, discard it. Splash a few drops of water on the shora to bring down the temperature. Grease with vegetable oil.
- Ladles batter into the moulds, cover and cook on one side only for 90 seconds. Once done, set aside.
- Serve with freshly grated coconut and jhola gur.