"India being a predominantly agrarian country the harvesting season is joyfully celebrated during the months of Poush-Magh and Falgun (January to February), the festival being known by different names in different regions. In Bengal the harvesting festival is known as Poush Parbon (Winter Festival), poush being the name of the month.
This festival also celebrates Makar Sankranti or Poush Sankranti — marking the sun's passage from Capricorn to Aquarius.
This festival is also known as Pithey Parbon in Bengal, pithey or pithe being a sweet made with basic agrarian ingredients of the region like rice, date palm etc.There are several varieties of Pithey known as Gokul Pithey, Ashkey Pithey, Shajer Pithey etc. Along with this, sweets like Pati Shapta, rice-flour crepes filled with khoya and coconut stuffing, Soru Chakli and many more are also made."
The above paragraph was what I wrote on my post on PatiShapta in 2007. It still remains true. What is different is that in these 6 years I have learned to make two more kinds. Of Pithe. The Gokul Pithe being the second. Yes, a poor record but that is how it is. Especially if you consider the fact that my Dida, with her betel juice stained mouth and silver hair was a Pithe maestro. Ashkey pithe, dudh puli, nonta pithe, pati shapta, gokul pithe, raanga aloor pithey, rosh bora...her creations on Sankranti were endless. I never much cared for them nor did I spend time trying to learn how to make any. Pithe was not something I hankered after.
Today, I make Rosh Bora or RoshoBora-- a urad dal fritter soaked in sugar syrup-- on Sankranti, a sweet I least fancied but now adore and then label the whole thing under Tradition. What goes down must come back up.
Without further 'blah-blahing' on my part let us get down to task with this very simple of sweets made on Poush Sankranti. Let me also tell you that notun gur aka khejur gur (date palm jaggery) being widely available at this time, the syrup for this sweet is usually made with jaggery. I did it with sugar though.
First, rinse and then soak 1 cup of Urad Dal in enough water . Urad dal is also known as kalai er dal in Bengali. Let it soak overnight for best results else 4-5 hours should also work well according to experts(and that is not me)
<< Insert picture of soaking Dal. I forgot to take any >>
Next morning rise and shine. After whatever your morning rituals are get to work with Urad. Drain the soaked dal which as you would see has risen in volume. Put the dal in your grinder jar. Do it in part if you have a smaller jar. Now gradually add water. For the measure I started with (i.e. 1 cup of Dal on the outset) about 3/4th to 1 cup of water will be needed to grind the dal. Add water gradually while making the paste so as not to make a urad soup.
<< Insert picture of you, your morning ritual or grinder making the paste >>
Pour the Dal paste out in a bowl and whip it with a fork. At this point I added about 1/4th cup of water to get the right consistency for the next step. Add salt to taste, about 1 tsp of sugar(optional) and around 1 tbsp of fennel seeds which have been lightly bruised. Lightly bruised means a gentle thwack in the mortar to just release the scent. Yes, yes, now I have the pikchar.
Now we will fry urad dal vada or bora as you like to say it. So heat enough oil for frying in a kadhai. BTW my mother brought this kadhai from her stash for sole purpose of frying during her last visit.Doesn't it look just the right amount of black and greasy ? When the oil is bubbling hot, test by putting in a drop of the batter. If the thingy bubbles and rises up, the oil is ready. With the help of a tablespoon, scoop up small portions of the batter and release in the hot oil.
While you are frying the bora, start making the sugar syrup on the other burner. In a saucepan take 2 cup of sugar + 2 cup of water and bring to boil. Throw in a few green cardamom for fun. When the mixture has come to a boil, lower the heat to medium and let it simmer. After simmering for 14-16 minutes the syrup will be formed. Now the syrup for this bora should be a thin one, the one known as single string consistency. Here is a video showing you how to make sugar syrup.
Soak the fried bora in the sweet syrup.
The fluffy bora will soak up the syrup and become what we had set out to create -- the RoshoBora or the Rosh Bora -- the bora soaked in sweet syrup.
Enjoy. Sankranti or not.