Blogging Marathon# 39 – Indian States: Day 30
State: West Bengal
Dish: Lobong Lathika
The last Indian state we are going to visit today is West Bengal. It is located in eastern India and is the fourth most populated state in India. It is a major agricultural producer in India. West Bengal is noted for its political activism and for its cultural activities and presence of cultutal and educational institutions. The state capital Kolkata is known as the ‘Cultural Capital of India’. The state’s cultural heritage, besides varied folk traditiona, ranges from stalwarts in literature including Nobel-laureate Rabindranath Tagore to scores of musicians, film makers and artists. West Bengal is also distinct from most other Indian states in its appreciation and practice of playing football besides the national favorite sport Cricket.
Like the other states I mentioned, my dad was in West Bengal on work for extended period of time. He would send us rasgullas in big containers, which is why I wrongfully thought rasgullas were from Bengal (they are actually from Orissa). He brought back a a variety of beautiful clay dolls from Ghurni. Showcases in my parents house are filled with these lovely dolls.
Cuisine: Rice and fish are traditional favorite foods in Bengal. Bengalis LOVE their fish and have a vast repertoire of fish based dishes. Sweets/ desserts occupy a very important place in Bengali’s diet and at their social ceremonies. They make distinctive sweets from milk products, like roshogolla, chomchom, kalojam, sandesh, pitha and the list is endless.
Today’s Dish: I have tried quite a few Bengali dishes in the past and since this is the last day of our month long marathon, I wanted to end it on a sweet note (I started this month with a sweet dish too!!). It’s not difficult to find sweets/ desserts in Bengali cuisine, the difficult part is to narrow it down to 1 dish for the day.
So after thinking of several options, I finally decided to make these juicy sweet called Lobong Lathika. I tasted this back home in India, but I remember the wrapper being a pale green color with creamy khoya/ mawa in the center and a cute little clove right in the middle. We called it Lavanga Lathika (Telugizing the lobong part :-). My mom said the wrapper was made with pumpkin skin or something like that. I didn’t want to go looking for that recipe because I found Sandhya’s recipe more doable.
Recipe from Sandhya’s blog:
For the Outer Cover:
- 2 cups All purpose flour
- 3 tbsps Sugar - (grind sugar if the granules are too big. we get here in US is finer than the one back home -- so I skipped the grinding step)
- ½ tsp Salt
- a pinch Baking Soda
- a pinch Saffron water of soaked in warm
- 3 tbsp Ghee
- 20 Cloves
For the Filling:
- 200 gms Khoya Mawa / (I used frozen khoya that I thawed overnight in the fridge)
- ¼ cup Sugar
- a pinch Nutmeg Ground
- ¼ cup Raisins
For the Sugar Syrup:
- 1 cup Sugar
- ½ cup Water
- 1 tsp Rose syrup (optional)
- Make the dough for the Covering: Combine all the ingredients for the covering and mix well. Add enough water and knead into a smooth, pliable dough. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
- Make the Filling: In a nonstick cooking pan, combine all the ingredients and cook on medium-low flame, stirring frequently, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan (as shown in the pic). Cool slightly before making the lathikas.
- Make the Sugar syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water and rose syrup (if using) and cook until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Simmer until the syrup reaches 1 string consistency. Keep the syrup warm.
- To make Lobong Latika: Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a small circle and place 2tsp filling inside.
- Fold the dough from both sides over the filling. Then repeat the same with the other 2 sides.
- Seal it with the clove. Repeat with rest of the dough and the filling.
- Heat oil for deep frying. Gently add 3~4 latikas and fry on medium flame until golden brown on all sides.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drop them gently into the sugar syrup. Turn them around to coat the lathikas evenly with the syrup. Leave them in the syrup for 3~4 minutes. Then place them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Let the labong lathika cool completely before enjoying. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge.