Back home, when I was a kid, every Poush Sankranti (Makar Sankranti) we used to visit Pishimoni’s place or she used to come over with her family – both ways, Poush Sankranti had to be nothing but grand. Maa and Pishimoni used to sit together to decide the year’s Sankranti menu and I, being Pishimoni’s assistant, used to give my valuable inputs. I was hardly eight or nine years old back then, but at Pishimoni’s presence I always used to pretend as if I am mature enough to know everything about cooking. I remember advising them the same thing every year at their menu deciding meeting – “sob pitha baniye nao, chintar kicchu nei, ami achi to” (prepare all the pithas, nothing to worry about, I am there). Pishimoni laughed and Maa scolded me “boroder moddhe paka paka kotha bole na” (don’t act over mature while elders’ are talking). Nevertheless, no scolding could ever stop me, and when Pishimoni is here, I knew, I can do everything and most importantly, I can eat anything 🙂
I could hardly remember the names of those pithas. I used to call “gol gol pitha” (round pitha), “lomba pitha” (long pitha), “chand er moto pitha” (moon like pitha) and so on. Maa and Pishimoni used to very well understand what I am asking for. While Maa’s reply used to be “jokhon somoy hobe tokhon banabo” (I will prepare when I get time), Pishimoni used to hold my hand and say “chol, amra dujone mile banai” (come, let use make together). We typically used to start our Pitha making session with “gol gol pitha” and “lomba pitha” which represent Gokul Pitha and Patishapta respectively.
Poush Sankranti always brings back those memories – of Maa scolding me, of Pishimoni pampering me. Pishimoni is long gone leaving behind heap of memories and her vast culinary knowledge and skill which she always tried to pass on to me. I am not like her, but would be more than happy if I can become like her, one day.
Keeping the custom intact, I stated my Poush Sankranti celebration this year by making Gokul Pitha. With tears in eyes, I dedicate this to my Pishimoni.
Coming to Gokul Pitha, this is soft, flavourful and completely melt-in-mouth sweet dumplings and it tastes heavenly. The Patali Gur (date palm jaggery) infused grated coconut and khoya stuffed inside a mild crunchy ball, deep fried and submerged into jaggery syrup, kept overnight to become fluffy – this food is heaven 🙂 Here’s the recipe for you all.
For The Dumpling Dough:
- 1.5 cup all purpose flour
- 2 table-spoon sooji
- 3 pinch salt
- Full fat milk (as required to knead a smooth dough)
For The Stuffing:
- 1 cup grated coconut
- 1/2 cup khoya
- 1/2 cup grated patali gur (date palm jaggery)
- 1/2 tea-spoon ghee
- Oil (as required for deep frying)
For The Syrup:
- 3/4 cup grated patali gur (date palm jaggery)
- 2 cup water
- Mix all the ingredients as mentioned in For The Dough section together and knead a smooth dough. Cover with a clean wet cloth and keep aside.
- For The Stuffing, heat a pan and add grated coconut and jaggery. On a low flame, stir until the two mix properly and the coconut becomes little fried.
- Add khoya and stir for another 2 minutes on low flame.
- Now, add ghee and give it a quick mix.
- Turn off the flame and let the stuffing cool down. The stuffing should be sticky such that if you compress, it should stick together.
- Before you start making the Pitha, get the syrup ready. This way, it will get enough time to cool down.
- Mix the ingredients mentioned in For The Syrup section and bring it to a boil. Let the jaggery completely dissolve in water and the syrup turns little thicker. The amount of jaggery can be adjusted depending the sweetness you require.
- Once the syrup is done, keep it aside to cool down to the room temperature.
- Take the dough that you prepared earlier and cut small balls from it. With the help of your fingers, press the balls to make bowl shapes.
- Now, stuff them with coconut stuffing and seal the edges to make stuffed round dumplings.
- For deep frying, heat required quantity of oil in a pan and pour the stuffed dumplings one by one. Fry until they turn golden brown.
- Remove from the oil to a vessel spread with tissue paper to absorb excess oil. Let them cool down to room temperature.
- Once, both the dumplings and the syrup come down to room temperature, submerge the dumplings into the syrup and keep for atleast 4-5 hours. For best result, keep them drowned into the syrup overnight.
- The Gokul Pitha is ready to be served now.
Pithas always taste great when they are bashi (literally means, the older they gets, the tastier they become). So, you can easily keep them in refrigerator for atleast 3-4 days – each day, the taste will be enhanced.
Enjoy Gokul Pitha with your loved ones and don’t forget to drop me a comment telling how you like it. You can also tag me on Instagram by using the handle @when_a_bong_cooks. Happy winter and Happy festivities!!!