Dal Pitha: Steamed Rice Dumplings with Savoury Filling

Cooking a traditional recipe always warms me up. Food always succeeds in spreading happiness. I was treated with steamed dumplings shaped like Gujiyas after I shifted to Ranchi. Was it a momo? Was it a Gujia? No, it’s a Dal Pitha. It is a popular traditional rice flour dumpling in Jharkhandi and Bihari cuisine. Dal pithas are stuffed with spicy masala lentil filling.

Pithas are a variety of food similar to pancakes, dumplings or fritters, originating from the Indian subcontinent, common in Bangladesh and India. Pitha can be sweet or savoury, and usually made from a dough or batter, which is then steamed, fried or griddled. Pithas are typically made of rice flour, although there are some types of pitha made of wheat flour. While some pitha can be made at any time of the year in Bengal and neighbouring states in India, there are special pitha strongly associated with harvest festivals such as Nabanna (literally “new rice”) and the Poush parbon or Makar Sankranti, celebrated on January 14 every year.

The speciality of Dal pitha is that it is vegan, gluten-free and steamed. High in proteins, this is an anytime snack, loved by all age groups. Pithas, as snacks, served along with Hari Dhaniya ki Chutney, Tomato Chutney or Mint Chutney can be a delightful starter. Dal pithas with chicken curry is a speciality dinner option, which I like very much. I planned to serve Dal Pithas with chicken curry for dinner tonight.

Pithas requires artful attention to detail and like every traditional recipe- lots of patience. While the ingredients are the bare minimum, minor negligence can lead to hard pithas.

Dal pitha with chicken curry

Widely famous as Jharkhand and Bihar’s rice flour dumplings, it is rich not only in taste but in health benefits too. It is rich in protein, minerals and carbohydrates among others that serve as a source of energy for people of every age.

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