Being Women

Ranga Alur Puli (Sweet Potato Dumplings)

Sankranti, the festival of delectable sweet dishes, is incomplete without Ranga alur puli, which is the most favourite pithe in most Bengali households. It is an occasion to express our gratitude to our farmers who work tirelessly, entire year, to produce it. Here is that special recipe, by Maumita, that will make you all extremely nostalgic and emotional.

It was the usual afternoon before Sankranti. The house was a cauldron of frenzied activity, the aroma of nolen gur and freshly harvested rice was in the air. Maa (Mom) and Didi (sister) were busy in the kitchen, the chirer doodh puli rested patiently in the soaked milk, the gokul pithe were waiting to be fried and the sweet potatoes were being mashed for the ranga alur puli that we all adore!

Grandma smiled and requested. “Get me a sheaf of paddy now”.
Grandma’s deft hands began weaving the inflorescence of paddy, with its numerous gorgeous golden spikelets into the braid of hay. “Do you want to decorate these any further?”, Grandma asked me. “Of course,”, I exclaimed. “See if Manik can pluck some mango leaves from the tree”. I was supremely excited and began searching for Manikaka. 8-10 mango leaves were all I needed.

While I was busy with the preparation, all these things made me realise about a philosophy of life. Why do we keep adding on material possessions when there is not even a whiff of real need? Anyway, I returned, panting for breath, the mango leaves in my hands which became the backdrop of hay and paddy spikelet. “What about a knob of turmeric?”. Grandma looked at me. I nodded in agreement, ecstatic that my views were being considered in assembling that adorable bouquet. The cheerful yellow radish flowers, turned to braids, made the hay strands exquisite and gorgeous.

Recipe: Ranga Alur Puli.

Sweet potato dumplings stuffed with a delectable mixture of coconut and jaggery. Fried to a gorgeous golden. Dipped in a sinful patali gur syrup.


 For the outer coating

  • 300 g sweet potatoes or ranga alu
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup plain flour

For the Stuffing

  • 1.5 cup coconut freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup khejur patali or date palm jaggery
  • 1/4 cup milk optional 

For the Jaggery Syrup

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup khejur patali or date palm jaggery

For the Stuffing

  1. Place a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium flame, add the freshly grated coconut and jaggery, cook, with frequent stirring, till the jaggery is well incorporated into the coconut. 7-10 minutes I would reckon. Now gently pour the milk, continue to cook till the milk has almost dried up.
  2. Allow to cool to room temperature. Keep aside.

For the Jaggery Syrup

  1. Heat the water and jaggery in a pot for about 15-20 minutes till you get a nice golden syrup.

For the Outer Coating

  1. Boil the sweet potatoes till soft. Peel, mash well.
  2. Add rice flour and plain flour to the mashed sweet potatoes, knead well to make a smooth dough, taking care that there are no lumps.
  3. If it is too soft, feel free to add some more plain flour. Add in small increments, too much flour shall make the coating too hard.

Assembling the Ranga Alur Pulis

  1. Now take a dough ball on your palm, press it gently in the middle using your thumb forming a small oval cup. Place a small portion of the coconut mixture in the middle of the cup. (As shown in the picture)
  2. Very gently bring the edges of the dough cup together to cover the stuffing and give it an oblong shape. As in the picture. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
  3. Heat oil in a deep bottomed pan. Fry till golden. Keep aside a kitchen absorbent towel.

Soak the fried pulis in the warm jaggery syrup, 20-30 minutes or so. Remove from the syrup. Serve.

By Maumita Paul Ghosh

Maumita is an organic chemist. A passionate cook. A recipe revivalist. A food blogger. An amateur shutterbag. A diehard fan of Indian folk art. 

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