Delicious winter cakes a source of income for many poor

Published : 07 Jan 2024 09:46 PM

Poor people in both rural and urban areas in the Kurigram district are fostering self-sufficiency by selling diverse local winter cakes, such as the traditional 'Bhapa' and 'Chetoi pitha

Bhapa pitha, locally known as ‘Bhaka’ or ‘Bhapa,’ is highly popular in the Rangpur division, including the Kurigram district. The Bhapa, or ‘Bhaka’ cake, is a traditional delicacy that has been passed down from generation to generation. Consequently, people from all walks of life have a strong fondness for consuming ‘Vaka Pitha’ early in the morning during the winter season.

Winter signifies Pitha, and Pitha brings happiness to the people. People love to indulge in Pitha during winter mornings. The majority of Pithas are seasonal, prepared especially in winter due to the availability of the required ingredients. Some Pithas are closely associated with harvest celebrations, such as Nabanna and Poush Parban. Pithas are traditionally prepared and served on significant occasions in Bangladesh, such as welcoming bridegrooms or brides, entertaining guests, or celebrating Pitha Utshob at family picnics, parties, and year-end vacations.

Bhapa Pitha is considered Bangladesh’s most well-known wintertime delicacy. It is made using discs of freshly ground rice flour that are steamed after being filled. The filling typically consists of coconut and date molasses, although brown sugar can be used as a substitute for date molasses. Cake makers start preparing Bhaka Pitha in various well-known places, including crossroads, in front of shops, near bazaars, and other open spaces. Most cake makers in rural areas are women, and the customers are also predominantly women, children, students, and young generations. These pithas are known for their delicious taste.

A fitting description for these Pithas would be to call them rice-based pancakes. Chitoi Pithas are another popular winter pitha found on the streets. These pithas are usually plain or slightly salty, and people love to have them at any time. Condiments include dips of mustard, coriander, and sometimes even dried fish paste. The warmth from the pithas and the punch of the pastes they are dipped in create a delightful experience for the consumers.

Many customers gather at these cake-making shops to enjoy hot cakes. During the winter season, Bhapa Pitha can be found at every roadside stall. Cake makers can be seen busy meeting the demands of customers. In the morning, Bhaka Pitha is made in various locations, including Khalilgani Bazar area, Islami Bank area, Zila Parishad crossing, and in front of markets, Adarsha Poura Bazar, vocational crossing, adjacent to Kurigram Dharla bridge, new railway station, Thanapara, etc.

In an interview with Mominul Islam, a 26-year-old Bhaka Pitha maker in Zila Parishad Mor, he mentioned that the prices of rice and molasses have increased, leading him to sell each Bhaka at Taka ten and each Chetoi at Taka ten with chutney. 

He is busy in both the morning and evening, selling cakes to support his family. Some customers purchase 5–10 pieces for their family members. Mominul supports his parents with the profits earned from selling Bhaka Pitha.

When relatives visit homes, the house owners entertain them by preparing various cakes, including Dud Pitha, Tel Pitha, Sim Pitha, Patisapta Pitha, Bhapa, and Chetoi, during this ongoing winter season. Such entertainment leaves the guests satisfied.