What defines the end of winter?
Sending woollens for dry cleaning. Endless doubt of what woollens to wear before leaving for the day. Dumping the quilt, forgetting all the memories of warmth associated with it. Switching off the water heater and switching on the fan. Many more perhaps.
During my childhood, the end of winter meant – no more oranges and other seasonal fruits. No more cricket and the very precious cricket bat with a Kapil Dev sticker and POWER written on the back needed to be cleaned and packed properly for next season. Also, no more short afternoons, where I would need to sneak into a game of cricket by lying to Ma. End of pears glycerin soap and water becoming a friend to play with once again in the shower.
Rangaalur Roshopuli is more than a memory
Someone told me a long time ago that in Delhi, Holi is the onset of Summer and Dusserah is the onset of winter. I have never experienced both in Delhi to judge the authenticity. However, in my part of the world in West Bengal, if there are two things which used to be like warning bells for the last phase of winter – it was “The Calcutta Book Fair” (An annual book exhibition cum sale which is amongst the biggest fairs in Kolkata) and Saraswati Puja, the goddess of studies and Bengalis’ own Valentines day.
Every season leaves you a little grown-up than the previous one, a little more experienced, some new friendships and some new thrills. During adolescence, these two events would bring in some new memories every year.
With much persuasion, Ma makes rosh puli
Ranga alu or sweet potato is another ingredient very typical of winter in Bengal. Nowadays, they are available for an extended period but it is in winter and around Sankranti, that a whole lot of desserts are made with ranga alu. One of them is ranga alur roshopuli. Ma used to make it for many winters but after my marriage, I don’t remember Ma making ranga alur roshopuli. It is after all very time consuming and takes some effort as well.
With age catching up, Ma feels reluctant to do such elaborate desserts without help. This year, after much requests and persuasion, Ma decided to make some ranga alur roshopuli before Sweet potatoes and Nolen Gur (date palm syrup) would leave the market for the season. Madhushree helped her. Knowledge transfer took place in the family with little cooking secrets shared in between.
So, until next winter, here are my other winter tales –
Winter Tales I – Cauliflower, Cricket and memories
Winter Tales II – Memories of Orange and Orange Swiss Roll
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Rangaalur Roshopuli | Sweet Potato Dumplings for Sankranti
For making the dumpling
- 1 kg sweet potatoes
- ½ cup rice flour
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- vegetable oil for deep frying
For making the filling
- 1 ½ cups freshly grated coconut
- ½ cup grated patali gur
- 2 tsp milk powder
For making the syrup
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup nolen gur
- The first thing you need to do is make the syrup. You can always make it a day in advance. In a heavy-bottomed pan, mix all three ingredients for the syrup and keep it on medium-low heat. Keep stirring from time to time. Bring it to boil and then again let it remain on heat till it reaches a syrupy yet pouring consistency. Take it off the heat and let it cool down.
- The next step is to make the filling. This step also could be done well in advance. To make stuffing, in a wok mix the grated coconut with grated jaggery and keep it on low flame. Keep stirring so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Let the jaggery or gur melt and mix with the coconut. Add milk powder towards the end. It helps in binding and making it sticky.
- The filling has to become a bit sticky and that’s when you turn off the heat and let it cool down completely. This process takes about 15-20 minutes.
- For the dumpling, the first thing you need to do is to boil the sweet potatoes. Once they are cool, peel the skins off and mash them well.
- Add the flour and some rice flour and make dough out of this. It will be soft dough and a bit sticky too. You may need to adjust the quantity of flour depending on the stickiness. It has to be hard enough to be able to make small round balls. But then don’t add too much flour that it will taste doughy. The predominant taste has to be sweet potatoes.
- Quickly make small balls of dough. Take one ball at a time and press gently on the palm of your hand. Flatten it out and spoon in a teaspoon of the filling in each ball.
- Gently cover the filling with both ends of the dough and press with your fingertips to seal the edges. Then using both your palm, shape them into cylinders with conical edges.
- Now the difficult part is deep-frying these dumplings. You have to make sure that the oil is not extremely hot or the dumpling will fall apart. Fry them on medium-low heat and turn them gently so that the colour is uniform on all sides.
- Once you have a dark golden colour of the dumplings, take them out of the hot oil and drop them in the bowl of syrup instantly.
- Let it rest in the syrup for some time. The dumpling will soak in a lot of syrup and will be soft, moist and juicy on the inside. It is nothing short of heavenly in the way it tastes, especially in the date palm syrup.
- You can serve it hot or cold as per your taste and liking.