December, although freezing, is a festive month in this part of the world and there are things to look forward to. Christmas lights and displays, holiday merchandise at shops, and holiday desserts at eateries and grocery shops add joy and warmth to a cold December.
Every country has a host of traditional sweets that they proudly plate as a representation of their food and culture; for Bangladesh, this is undoubtedly pitha. For us, pitha is not just any other ordinary food but is also a treasure trove of great memories. Growing up, winter would mean seeing your mum making pithas of various sizes and shapes and listening to the stories of the origin of these sweets. Or, it would mean having steaming hot, warm chitoi pitha for breakfast with mangsher jhol.
Winter in Bangladesh signifies three things; travelling across the country, badminton tournaments in every neighbourhood, and of course mouth-watering pithas to suit just about every palate. There are at least hundreds of different varieties of pithas. Some are associated with the harvest (Nabanna) in winter while some others are prepared on any grand occasions like weddings, Eid or Puja. Some are crunchy, some steamed and others delightfully soaked in sugar, molasses, milk or date palm syrup. Most of them are sweet, though there are some savoury pithas too for those of you who likes things spicy.
When it comes to winter snacks, it’s hard to beat a good pitha. Sweet or savoury, no matter your preference, there’s a pitha out there for everyone.