Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pitha-Pulis Play a Great Role in Bangalis' Christmas

Kata kuli pitha

Chitoi pitha

Kolkol pitha

Pakon pitha

Fruit cake

The above pitha-pulis prepared by Mary D'Costa

Photo (Toronto: Dec. 25, 2010) © Ujjal Peter D'Costa

Wherever Bangalis (people of Bengal -- Bangladesh and West Bengal of India) go, pitha pulis (rice powder cakes and pastries) go there, too. From time immemorial, pitha pulis are part of the Bangali (Bengalee) culture.

Chaler guri (rice powder or flour), gur (molasses made from juice of date palm or sugar cane), khejur rosh (dark syrup from date palm juice), milk, shuji or suji (granulated wheat -- a kind of semolina), ground coconut and cooking oil are main ingredients of pitha pulis. These items came into being in the winter months when many of the ingredients are easily available and when the colder temperature is good for preservation and longevity of food items.

Girls and housewives take pride in demonstrating their ingenuity in creating dozens of pithas and pulis in a variety of shapes, sizes, contents and designs.

More than 400 years ago, when the Catholic Portuguese missionaries brought Christianity to Bengal, new local Christians naturally integrated many of their social and culinary customs with their new religious culture. Those customs are still continuing and they are spreading worldwide with increasing immigration of Bangali Christians. In addition, these Christians also accept the local customs (western foods including cakes and pastries) in their festivities.

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