Sankranti usually falls on 14th of Januaruy. This is one festival the whole country celebrates but with different names. Its Poush Sankranti in Bengal, Bihu in Assam, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Lohri in Punjab, Uttarayan in Gujrat and Makar Sankranti in rest of India. It’s a harvest festival where Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of Wealth, is worshiped and thanked for the bountiful harvest. She is offered sweets made from the freshly harvested paddy.
Bengalis make special sweets called Pithe for this occasion. Rice flour, date-palm jaggery and coconut are the main ingredient that goes into making the pithe.
For the past few days I was superbly busy and had no time or inclination to make Pithes. They can be strenuous and time consuming. But when Mom asked me, “you will not even make one????”, I did not know what to answer. All I had in hand was some sweet potatoes and no coconut or jaggery. She suggested “Ranga Aloo r Pither” or Sweet Potato Dumpling in Cardamom Infused Syrup.
You are supposed to add coconut to Ranga Aloo r Pithe, but I chose to ignore. The fact I had agreed to make pithe inspite of my current schedule should suffice. You need Khoya (dried whole milk), which also I never had. Neither I had condensed or evaporated milk. Since necessity is known to the mother of invention, I substituted khoya with my nondairy coffee creamer, like NESTLÉ® Coffee-mate. You really cannot tell the difference... :D
|Recipe Snapshot: Ranga Aloo r Pithe (Sweet Potato Dumpling in Cardamom Infused Syrup)|
(1 serving = 2 pc)
What I used:
For the Pithe/Dumpling:
Sweet Potatoes - 2 large, boiled and mashed, yielding around 1.5 cups
All-purpose flour - 2 tbsp
Coffee/tea creamer - 2 tbsp (like NESTLÉ® Coffee-mate or NESTLÉ EVERYDAY Dairy Whitener)
A pinch of salt
Oil for deep frying
For the Syrup
Granulated Sugar - 1.5 cups
Water - 2 cups
Green cardamom - 3-4 pods, pounded
What I did:
1. Boil the sweet potatoes till soft. Drain the water and let it cool. Peel and mash till smooth. This is the most important step. The potatoes should be lump free. Use a potato masher or a food mill (if you have one).
2. Combine the granulated sugar and the water with the cardamom pods and bring to a boil. Simmer till the sugar is slightly thick (should have two string consistency).
3. Add the flour and the dairy creamer to the mashed potatoes mix to make smooth dough.
4. Pinch a ping pong ball size from the sweet potato dough. You can make it in a smooth round or an oval shape or even the Bengali Puli shape.
5. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan, till it reaches smoking point.
6. Lower the heat to medium and fry the balls till deep golden, turning every few seconds to get an even color.
7. Dunk the fried balls in the sugar syrup for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Also, don’t let it sit in the syrup for too long or else the balls will become mushy.
8. Tastes the best the next day when all the flavors have set in and matured.
So as my son and husband bite into the soft and dense fried sweet potato balls drenched in aromatic sugar syrup, I will satiate my soul with their happy smiles. These treats are too high in calories to be incorporated even in 'rare treats' category!
Even though Sweet potatoes are considered to be diabetic super food, with low Glysemic Index, yet this recipe is a disaster for your diabetic management. This stuff is first deep fried and then soaked in thick sugar syrup. These dumpling do not even qualify for the 'rare treat' category.