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       Volume 6 | Issue 51 | December 23, 2012 |


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Winter Treat

Aroma from the clay oven enchants everybody.

Pitha, the ultimate winter delicacy

Rakibul Hasan
Photos: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo

It's the holiday season once again. Winter has arrived in the city on tiptoe. Falling leaves, the curtain of mist that lingers over the city skyline till noon and well lit badminton courts on every other corner convey a message that is all too dear and familiar to us. It is the time of the year when the schools close down, universities go for semester breaks and big plans fall into places! Many students get the chance to visit their grandparents' in village and to enjoy delicious bites of pitha. The scene of pithas being made on clay oven in a rural setting makes the perfect impression of the perpetual life in rural Bengal. However, the city folks also treasure the tradition of eating pithas in winter.

Nowadays, roadside stalls where one can get delicious pithas, just out of the oven are available in almost every neighbourhood. With the promise of providing warmth and delicious food, these places often become a favourite spot to hang out with friends for many in foggy mornings or chilly evenings. Nayeema Zaman, a student of Dhaka City College, says, “Pithas made during winter are great for a change from all the fast food that we eat all year round. The smell of desiccated coconut spread over steamy hot Bhapa Pitha always makes my mouth water.”

The mouth-watering varieties of pithas.

As we wake up in the cold morning of winter, leaving the warm comfort of our fuzzy blankets, it feels heavenly to have a delicious breakfast of 'Dudh Chitoi Pitha' that has been soaked overnight in milk and Date Jaggery syrup. Pati Sapta is another delight; the Pitha is stuffed with a creamy filling made out of milk and sugar. There is also Puli Pitha, the crescent shaped dumpling made of coconut and molasses and the list of Pithas can go on and on. Zobayer Ahmed, a student of North South University says, “Winter is the perfect time to have long laidback chats with friends as classes mostly remain out around this time. I make the best use of these holidays by jamming on guitar with my friends. Needless to say, each of those jamming session involves multiple Pitha breaks and it feels good to have such delicacies with friends.”

Pitha has been a part of parcel of our culinary culture since long ago. Traditionally, Pithas were made especially during festivals that were associated with harvesting, such as Nobanno and Poush Songkranti. Though these rural festivals might have lost their applicability to the hectic urban life, Pithas are still made on special occasions such as religious festivals or weddings. Tamanna Zaman, a student of North South University student says, “One of my cousins is getting married by the end of this month. My cousins and I will be making a lot of decorated Pithas, which would be sent as a gift to the groom's house. It will be a lot of fun, for sure!”

If you are in search of a good place where you can get a variety of Pithas in an economic price, then the Uttara Pitha Ghar, located in Sector 1, Road 10, Uttara, or Pitha Ghar in Rabindra Sarabar, Dhanmondi, can be the perfect places to be. One would get a long list of both sweet and savoury Pithas in these shops. Starting from Dudhpuli, Mug pakan, Bhapa to Dim Puli and Langka Pitha, these readymade Pithas can satisfy your palate to a great extent. The cost of these Pithas varies from Tk 20 to 40 a piece.

If one is to name some of our most prominent traditional food items, Pithas should top the list. It won't be an overstatement to say that these Pithas are actually a symbol of our national identity. So, keep trying out Pithas with friends and family and make some good memories for this season.

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