Bhapa literally means, “steamed”. Bhapa Pitha is one of those classic, traditional types of Pithas, a Bengali festival or celebration is incomplete without. These are simply, and very delectably! steamed rice-cakes prepared from nicely ground rice flour with a filling of either date palm syrup or molasses. As we posted a recipe of a very traditional Bengali Pati Shapta before, this one goes right after it to make you crave for more of these toothsome sweets straight from the Bengali kitchen!
2 pieces of small white cotton cloth (about the size of a standard paper napkin)
A deep, small, round bowl to shape the pitha
A saucepan and aluminum foil (or Special bhapa pitha making pot)
2cups Rice flour
1½ cup fresh coconut
½ cup water for steaming
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup date molasses (guur), broken into small pieces
The steps to make a Bhapa Pitha making-pan if you don’t have a special Bhapa Pitha making-pot are simple:
A half of a saucepan needs to be filled with water and covered with a double-coat of aluminum foil. Make sure it is as airtight as you can make it so that the vapour does not go out from the sides. Then, take a fork and make a hole in the middle of the covered foil (as in a perforated steel plate but only in the middle in this case). Make sure it is the only outlet the vapour can come out from when you place the bowl on it to make the Bhapa Pitha.
To make the Pitha: Sift the flour and add a pinch of salt. Then add ½ a cup of coconut and set it aside for at least 30 minutes. (Note that the mixture should neither be like dough nor like a batter, just add some water to it to dampen the mixture). Sift the damp flour again using a strainer. You might as well use your palm to sieve the wet flour through the strainer.
Soak the pieces of cotton (muslin or cheese) clothes in a separate bowl of water. Now, boil some water in the Pitha-making pan. Spread the flour mixture in a small bowl (spread so as to cover only half of the bowl). Now add some coconut and ground molasses to it and cover it by adding some more flour mixture to it so that bowl is tightly filled. Take one of the cotton (muslin or cheese) clothes that you’d soaked in a bowl of water and lightly squeeze out the water so that it remains wet. Carefully flip the bowl after gathering the corners of the cloth with the bowl inside. Make sure you had done it properly before flipping the bowl upside-down and smoothly placing it at the centre of the pan. Take out the bowl carefully and you’ll see that the ingredients inside the bowl have formed into a round shaped cake (yes, that’s your Pitha!). Steam cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Then, take out the Pitha carefully with the help of a spatula. Soak the used piece of cloth again in water and use the other one to make another. Repeat the same process for making more.