|Course||Whole meal, snack, or dessert|
|Place of origin||Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent|
|Region or state||West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Assam|
|Associated national cuisine||India, Bangladesh, Nepal|
|Main ingredients||Rice flour or wheat flour|
Pitha (Bengali/Assamese: পিঠা piṭha, Odia: ପିଠା or Sylheti: ꠙꠤꠑꠣ; fiṭa) is a type of rice cake from the eastern regions of the Indian subcontinent, common in Bangladesh, Nepal and India, especially the eastern states of Odisha, Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and the northeastern region of India. Pithas are typically made of rice flour, although there are some types of pitha made of wheat flour. Less common types of pitha are made of palm or ol (a local root vegetable).
Pithas are primarily made from a batter of rice flour or wheat flour, which is shaped and optionally filled with sweet or savory ingredients. When filled, the pitha's pouch is called a khol (literally "container") and the fillings are called pur.
For stuffed vegetable pithas, ingredients such as cauliflower, cabbage, radish, or potato are usually fried, baked, or steamed, and then mashed, cooled, and formed into small balls to stuff into the pithas.
Sweet pithas typically contain sugar, jaggery, date juice, or palm syrup, and can be filled with grated coconut, cashews, pistachios, sweetened vegetables, or fruits. Sweet pithas are also often flavored using cardamom or camphor.
Pithas vary considerably across the regions of the eastern Indian Subcontinent.
In Odisha, Pithas (Odia: ପିଠା) are special delicacies in an Odia home. On traditional festivals sweet pithas form a part of the celebrations. Even pithas are also routinely prepared and served in Odia homes in normal days. The pitha may be broadly put in the category cakes. Some Odia pithas include the following:
- Arisa Pitha (Odia: ଆରିସା ପିଠା): deep-fried pitha made from rice flour with jaggery or sugar.
- Manda Pitha (Odia: ମଣ୍ଡାପିଠା): steamed pitha made from rice flour, often with a grated coconut and jaggery/sugar filling or a fresh cheese (chhena) filling.
- Kakara pitha (Odia: କାକରା ପିଠା): very popular fried pancake made from wheat flour/semolina, often with a sweet cocunut filling.
- Enduri Pitha (Odia: ଏଣ୍ଡୁରି ପିଠା): pitha made from rice flour and black gram, often with a jaggery and coconut or cheese filling, steamed in a turmeric leaf. Enduri pitha is a special delicacy of the Prathamastami festival.
- Chakuli Pitha (Odia: ଚକୁଳି ପିଠା): (chakuli) thin/thick pancake(set dosa) made from fermented rice and black gram, often eaten for breakfast. Thinner varieties are called saru chakuli, and resemble plain dosas. Often served with dalama (Odia: ଡାଲମା) (vegetable mixed with pulses)nadia chatni (coconut chutney) or kheeri (Odia: ଖିରି), a rice dish.
- Poḍo piṭha (Odia: ପୋଡ଼ ପିଠା) (lit. "burnt pitha"): slow-cooked pitha made from fermented rice and black gram, with chopped coconut. Its crust is slightly burnt, while the inside is soft and white, mostly during Raja Parba.
- Chitau piṭha (Odia: ଚିତଉ ପିଠା): fried pancake made from rice flour, coconut, and milk, often offered in pujas to Lord Jagannath on Chitalagi Amabasya (or Chitau Amabasya).
- Gaintha godi (Odia: ଗଇଁଠା ଗୋଡ଼ି): Small balls made of rice flour dipped in seasioned sweet milk.speciality of pausha amavasya(baula amavasya)
- Karanji (Odia: କରଞ୍ଜି): A dumpling made of maida and stuffed with coconut, cashew raisins and fried in ghee.
- Malpua (Odia: ମାଲପୁଆ): Sweetened deep fried batter of a mixture of bananas and flour
- Suji Kakara Pitha (Odia: ସୁଜି କାକରା ପିଠା): A sweet dish made of suji with coconut stuffing
- Tala Pitha (Odia: ତାଳ ପିଠା): A sweet dish made of palm fruit and rice batter
- Chunchipatra Pitha (Odia: ଛୁଞ୍ଚିପତ୍ର ପିଠା): A pitha made by sprinkling the batter onto a kadai/pan and putting a stuffing made of grated coconut, jaggery/sugar, elaichi.
Pitha (Devanagari : पिट्ठा ) is also the part of Bihari cuisine particularly in Mithila region of Bihar. Mainly the rice flour pitha is popular in Bihar and two varieties of stuffed(sweet or salty stuffing) or unstuffed pitha are consumed.
In Bangladesh and West Bengal
While some pitha can be made at any time of the year in Bengal (Bangladesh and Indian West Bengal), there are special pitha strongly associated with harvest festivals such as Nabanna (Bengali: নবান্ন nôbanno, literally "new rice" or "new food") and the Poush parbon or Makar Sankranti, celebrated on January 14 every year. Pitha are usually made with rice flour, milk, coconut and jaggery. It is often served with sweet syrups such as date tree molasses (Bengali: খেজুরের গুড় khejurer guṛ). Some of the most common pitha found in Bengal (both in Bangladesh and West Bengal) include the following:
- তেলের পিঠা Teler piṭha (lit. "oil pitha")
- ভাপা পিঠা Bhapa piṭha (lit. "steamed pitha") or dhupi
- Pakan piṭha: fried
- পুলি পিঠা Puli piṭha: dumplings
- বেনি পিঠা Beni piṭha (lit. "braid pitha")
- দুধের পিঠা Dudher piṭha (lit. "milk pitha") or ভিজা পিঠা bhija piṭha (lit. "wet pitha")
- চন্দ্র পুলি Chôndro puli
- মুগের পুলি Muger puli
- দুধ পুলি Dudh puli
- নকশী পিঠা Nokshi pitha
- Paṭi shapta (thin crepes stuffed with jaggery and coconut)
- Taal pitha (made of Asian palmyra palm fruits)
- Mug pakon
- Chui Pitha or Chutki Pitha (Traditional Old Dhaka Pitha)
In Assam, pitha is a special class of rice preparation generally made only on special occasions like Bihu. Assamese pithas are often made from bora saul, a special kind of glutinous rice, or xaali saul, or sun-dried rice. Some pithas commonly found in Assam include the following:
- তিল পিঠা Til pitha (lit. "sesame pitha"): a pan baked pancake made from bora saul and filled with sesame seeds, ground coconut, dried orange rind, and jaggery. Also called hesa pitha since it is rolled and pressed.
- ঘিলা পিঠা Ghila pitha (lit. "knee pitha"): a fried pitha made from bora saul and jaggery. Salt can also be used instead of jaggery for a savory variant.
- চুঙা পিঠা Sunga pitha: a special pitha made with both xaali saul and bora saul, which are mixed with water and jaggery and churned thoroughly before being placed in a young bamboo tube corked with banana leaf and roasted in fire. The resulting tube-shaped cake is then cut into pieces and served with hot milk.
- টেকেলি পিঠা Tekeli pitha (lit. "earthenware pitha"): a special pitha made with both xaali saul and bora saul, mixed with coconut, sugar, and powdered milk. Ground cardamom and dried orange rind can also be added. The pitha is steamed in an earthenware pot set on a hearth.
- Xutuli pitha
- Dhup pitha
- Bhapotdiya pitha
- Lakhimi pitha
- Tora pitha
- Muthiya pitha
- Kholasapori pitha