Originated in the Bikrampur district of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Bibikhana Pitha is much like a cake made with patali gur or molasses, rice flour, thickened milk, egg and ghee as primary ingredients. This pitha, on any day, can give a tough time to any exotic cake you love to eat. Considered to be Bangladeshi cake, Bibikhana Pitha is soft, melt-in-mouth, flavourful and a perfect winter delicacy. My ancestral house in Karimganj, Assam, still have the practice of making this pitha in winters.
My family has the origin in Sylhet (now in Bangladesh). Pishimoni, being one of the supreme cooks in my family, had a vast knowledge of different recipes. She is no more with us, but, her legacy lives on the fact that today we are aware of some unique forgotten recipes that not everyone knows about. The little I know about cooking is because of Pishimoni. My childhood memories of Poush Sankranti and pithe-puli circles around Pishimoni and yes, I miss her so much.
Traditionally, Bibikhana Pitha is prepared over koylar chula (countryside charcoal oven) and thus the pitha gets infused with a smoky flavour. Even in my childhood I have seen Pishimoni cooking this in koylar chula and that was so fascinating. I remember I used to find the name tough to pronounce and call it “cake pitha“. Every time I do that, Pishimoni used to correct me.
We, in our urban lifestyle, have long back replaced koylar chula with gas oven and here I am making my Bibikhana Pitha on gas top. People sometimes prefer to make it on oven, but that’s a big NO for me. I have never tried making this on oven and neither the idea appeals me. While Pishimoni always used to add molasses, I make it with grated jaggery if molasses is not available. Also, I take slightly warm milk to make the batter as this makes the jaggery dissolve quickly.
As I enjoy my “cake pitha” and travel down the memory lane. here’s the recipe for you all.
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1/3 cup maida (all purpose flour)
- 1/3 cup grated coconut
- 1 cup grated patali gur (date palm jaggery)
- 2 table-spoon sugar
- 1 cup thickened warm milk
- 1/3 cup ghee
- 2 egg
- 2 pinch cinnamon powder
- 3 pinch cardamom powder
- some oil/ghee to grease
- Mix rice flour and maida together and sift the mixture using a flour strainer to ensure no lumps remain. Add cardamom powder and cinnamon powder to it and keep aside. Your dry mixture is ready.
- In a large mixing bowl add jaggery, sugar, milk, ghee and break eggs on them. Stir and mix until the jaggery gets dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
- Now, add grated coconut to the same mixture and give a proper mix.
- Add the dry mixture portion by portion to it and mix well to form a smooth batter.
- Take a heat proof container with lid or a steel tiffin box and grease with oil or ghee.
- Pour the batter to it and tap lightly to ensure no air pockets remain in the mixture. Cover the lid to seal it properly.
- Now, take a large kadai or pressure cooker and place a steel stand. Place your sealed box over it. Add water so much so that it should submerge the stand and touch the base of the box.
- Cover the lid of the pressure cooker (without gasket and whistle) or the lid of the kadai that you are using. Over medium flame, steam for approximately one hour.
- Do keep checking in between and add water if you see the level has decreased.
- After one hour, remove the box from the steaming vessel, open the lid and insert a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, the pitha is done; if not, you need to steam some more time.
- Once done, open the lid and let it come down to room temperature. Loosen the edges with the help of a knife and put it on a serving tray/dish. Garnish with grated coconut if you want.
- Your Bibikhana Pitha is ready now.
Enjoy it immediately or you can store it upto 2-3 days in an airtight container. Do drop me a comment giving your feedback about this recipe. You can also tag me on Instagram using the handle @when_a_bong_cooks.