1 kg sheddho chaal (short-grained parboiled rice)
1.8 l water (hot)
25 gms (5 tsp) salt
Neutral vegetable oil for greasing
Freshly scraped coconut (from roughy 2 whole coconuts)
Jhola gur (liquid date-palm jaggery)
Grinder or wet grinder
Large mixing bowl
Shora mould (or a thick-base paniyaram mould which can be set on a stove)
Grinding: To grind the rice, we find using a wet grinder like the kind used for idli/dosa batters works best. However, if you don’t have a wet grinder, you can achieve the same result in a regular electric grinder, just that it would require your constant attention throughout the grinding process. But whichever grinder you use, just be patient and grind the rice until it is absolutely smooth.
Stove: We’ve gone the traditional route and cooked this on a coal-fired clay oven (unoon) outdoors (it’s an annual ritual). But you can use your gas stove or even a barbeque, provided your moulds can stand it!
Mould: Shora pithe are cooked in a shora, which is a terracotta mould that looks similar to a paniyaram mould. You can use a thick-base paniyaram mould which can be set directly on the stove.
1. Wash the rice very well, rinsing it 4 to 5 times until the water runs clean.
2. Soak the rice overnight in boiling hot water. This parcooks the rice and produces a soft pithey.
3. Strain it the next morning over a colander, and once all the water has drained, add it to your wet grinder.
4. Meanwhile, heat some water until boiling, and keep it ready to use for grinding the rice.
5. Start grinding, using no extra water in the beginning. Slowly incorporate more hot water until you have used up all 1.8 litres of it. You should have a smooth, grain-free batter at the end of this process. The entire grinding process will take about 30 minutes or so, and you may have to do it in batches depending on the size of your grinder.
6. Add salt and mix it in well. The batter should now have a thick yet pourable consistency.
7. Set up your clay oven if using it, and preheat your shora.
8. When smoking hot, grease it with some vegetable oil and ladle in the batter. Cover and allow it to cook for about 90 seconds.
9. Unmould it when the bottom has a lightly burnt look and the top looks steamed and cooked. If you are using a new terracotta mould, the first batch may stick. Break into one to check that it is cooked through.
10. Repeat until you have run out of the batter.
11. Now the fun part - serving it. As you can see from the sparse ingredient list, there is not much to this rustic recipe. The joy is in the cooking and eating. Shora pithe are served with generous helpings of freshly scraped coconut and liquid jaggery.
Either mix your jaggery and coconut together, and have a mouthful of it with every bite of the pithe, or dip the pithe in jaggery anda scoop the coconut along with it — you will figure it out.