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Patishapta pitha – Bangladeshi rice crêpes

Patishapta Pitha – Rice crepes with coconut and date filling

PT1H15M

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Winter in Bangladesh brings forth all manner festivities and the very special art of pitha making - rice-based sweets and savouries. There are over a hundred different types of pitha, but patishapta pitha is one of the favourites across the country. Bangladesh is known for its sweets, and a meal or get-together is incomplete without something to ‘sweeten the mouth'. This dish evokes nostalgic memories of my mother’s kitchen, filled with the sizzling sound of cold batter hitting a hot tawa pan and the aroma of spiced coconut.

Made in the style of crêpes, a runny batter is poured and swirled quickly to form paper-thin pastry. The filling for these sweet pitha vary little if kept to traditional recipes, featuring either creamy and milk-based fillings with semolina or rice flour (called kheer) or coconut and molasses ones. My recipe is based on the classic coconut and molasses-filled patishapta my mother made for us while growing up. The caramel-flavoured mixture of cardamom, cinnamon and bay-infused coconut and molasses is so delicious encased inside soft crêpes. Pour a little cream on top for the perfect indulgence.

Ingredients

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  • Batter

  • 75g of semolina
  • 75g of rice flour
  • 150g of plain flour
  • 400ml of milk
  • 50ml of water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • Filling

  • 1 cinnamon stick, small
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 200g of desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 225g of date molasses
  • 4 tbsp of oil, to brush the pan
  • To serve

  • 2 tbsp of pistachio nuts, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of dried rose petals
  • pouring cream, (optional)
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Method

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1
In a bowl, mix together the semolina and flours with milk and water. Add the salt and sugar and whisk until smooth. Cover and leave to rest for 1 hour
2
Meanwhile, make the filling. Bring 500ml of water to the boil with the cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf. Mix in the coconut and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15–18 minutes, stirring regularly until the coconut has softened and absorbed all the water. Take off the heat and set aside
3
Melt the ghee over a medium heat in a frying pan. Once the ghee has melted, add the coconut and molasses and cook for 8–10 minutes on a very low heat, until the molasses has blended with the coconut and the mixture has turned soft but still falls easily off a spoon. Take off the heat and transfer the mixture to a dish and leave to cool for at least 30 minutes
4
Heat a flat griddle pan or cast-iron tawa pan over a low heat and brush lightly with oil. Add a small ladle of batter to the pan, swirling as you go, to create a thin crêpe. Cook for 1–1 ½ minutes until pale golden on the underside and place roughly 2 tbsp of the coconut filling across the centre in a thick vertical line or log shape
5
Use a spatula to flip over one side of the crêpe to cover the filling and then flip the other side over the covered filling (like an envelope). Repeat until you use up all the batter, greasing the pan after cooking every patishapta. Remove from the pan and keep warm as you cook the rest
6
Scatter with finely crushed pistachios and rose petals with some pouring cream on top, if desired
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Patishapta pitha – Bangladeshi rice crêpes

 
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