January 13, 2009
Ranga Alur Pithe (Sweet Potato Dumplings)
You think this is gulab jamun? Well, this is like gulab jamun, except that it is made with sweet potato and coconut. And it's call Ranga alu pithe.
I was on the phone talking to my mom when she mentioned that Sankranti is this week. Sankranti is a harvest festival celebrated in many parts of India on the 14th or 15th of January. And since this is a harvest festival, different parts of India make various delicacies with seasonal produce. In Bengal, this is the time to make pithes. Different kinds of pithes with rice, coconut, palm jaggery, sweet potatoes, milk, cream in different combination.
On phone with her, I remembered all the pithe I had when they were visiting. My mom had made Ranga Alur Pithe when she was here and there wouldn't be a better time to post the recipe. She had made them for diwali and the kids particularly enjoyed the little secret in the middle of each pithe.
This is sweet potato dumpling filled with coconut in the middle, fried and then dunked into a sugar syrup which has been flavored with cardamoms. I was eating them after ages, so they were a fantastic treat!
2-3 sweet potatoes
1-2 tspoon - all purpose flour
2 cups - grated Coconut -(frozen)
1 - 1/2 cup sugar (depending on taste)
3-4 cardamoms (ground)
1 - 1 1/2 cup oil for frying
For sugar syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1-2 cardamom pods (ground)
few strands of saffron (optional)
Boil the sweet potato till it is soft and mushy. Peel the potato once its cool and then mash it up. Add the flour to the potato mash and set aside in the fridge for 30 min to an hour to allow it to set.
In the meantime, heat a thick bottomed pan and add the frozen coconut and sugar and cook on medium high heat. Let the sugar and coconut cook to a mix. Once the coconut and sugar are well combined take a tspoon of the mixture and make a small ball to see if it holds shape. If its holds shape, add the powdered cardamom to this mixture and set aside to cool slightly.
The syrup should be made earlier and kept warm. Add 2 cup of sugar to a cup of water and let it come to a boil. The add the cardamoms and the saffron strands and let it cook on medium heat for 5-10 min. It shouldn't be too thick.
Now get the potato mash out of the fridge. Divide the potato mash into equal small balls, make a depression in the center and place the coconut ball inside Then cover it into a round.
Heat the oil in a wok and deep fry the balls till they turn golden brown. Now, soak deep fried sweet potato and coconut balls in sugar syrup.
Serve warm or cold.