Bhapa Pitha is a delicate and sweet rice cake that takes a bit of patience to make. It can fall apart easily. Once mastered however, the dish is a wonderful dessert. In Bangladesh Pitha’s come in all forms, they can be steamed, baked or fried. Many times these are eaten along side vegetables and curries without the sweet filling. This recipe eliminates making the rice flour from scratch which would normally be done in Bangladesh, the result using store bought rice flour is said to be nearly identical. Enjoy!
Bhapa Pitha (a Sweet Rice Cake Dessert)
- 2 cups rice flour
- 1 ½ cups fresh coconut grated
- ½ cup water plus additional for steaming
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup date molasses coarsely broken into small pieces (brown sugar can be substituted)
- You will also need 2 pieces of cheese cloth a deep small round bowl to shape the pitha, a bhapa pitha pot or a saucepan and aluminum foil.
- Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl. Add in ½ cup of grated coconut
- Sprinkle a small amount of water at a time to dampen the flour. (You want the mixture to be just wet, not like dough or a batter.) If you make a ball you want it to stay together until it touches the work surface and would lightly fall apart.
- In a small bowl, put two pieces of cheesecloth in water (about the size of a large napkin), let soak for a few minutes.
- Boil some water in your pitha making pan or if you are using a saucepan, fill it about ½ way with water, bring to a boil and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Poke holes in the top of the foil the size of the bowl you will be using to make the pitha. (this will allow the steam to cook the pitha).
- In the small, deep bowl you are using to shape the pitha, press the flour mixture to the bottom of the bowl only ½ way. Add in some coconut and molasses to the center. Cover the coconut and molasses with a layer of the flour mixture, pressing firmly. (Don’t overfill with the coconut and molasses, you want the filling to remain just in the middle.)
- Take one of the cheesecloth pieces and squeeze out any excess water. Spread the cloth over the top of the bowl.
- Gather the corners of the cloth with the bowl inside and flip the bowl over using the cloth and place the bowl which is now upside down on top of the holes you made in your pitha pan.
- Carefully remove the bowl, the pitha will hold the shape of the bowl and steam cook the pitha for 6-8 minutes. Please note that cooking time will vary depending on the size of the bowl you are using.
- Carefully unwrap the pitha from the cheesecloth and place it on a plate with the help of a spatula. Put the warm cheesecloth back into the bowl of water to soak for later use.
- Using the second piece of cheesecloth, repeat the process until all the flour mixture is gone.
- Enjoy with sweet tea and milk.