With the advent of winter, sales of delicious winter pithas (cakes) like ‘bhapa’ and ‘chitoi’ have begun at many roadside shops in the capital and elsewhere in the country.
The seasonal pitha business brings smiles to the pitha vendors as they set up makeshift shops at the roadside in the capital to earn some extra money during winter.
Sales of winter pithas usually start in the afternoon and continue till late night as people of all ages are crowding roadside shops in different places of the capital, including Jatrabari, Sadarghat, New Market, Gabtoli, Mirpur, Karwan Bazar, Farmgate, Rampura, Gulistan, Motijheel, Sayedabad and Mohakhali areas, every day.
Footpath is the first stop for many as pitha is easily available there. During a spot visit to a pitha shop at Rampura on Saturday, it was seen that a middle-aged woman was preparing scrumptious bhapa on roadside while pedestrians were having the delicious food.
The pitha maker, who came from Mymensingh, said, “I sell a cake at Tk 5 to Tk 15 as per their sizes and qualities.”
Shamim, a customer, said, “I become nostalgic whenever I try pitha on footpath during winter. It takes me a flight back to my childhood when my grandma used to prepare pitha at dusk. We used to gather round the fire and chatted for hours.”
Another pitha vendor, who usually sells fruits in Badda area in other seasons of the year, said, “It is a good business in winter but the profits from pitha sales are poor now compared to the previous years because of the rising prices of essentials.”
Like the two vendors, many others have turned into seasonal yummy pitha sellers this winter in the capital. Vendors said they earned Tk 50,000 to Tk 60,000 profits every winter by selling cakes at roadside shops.
Vendors said they usually sell two most popular items — ‘bhapa’ and ‘chitoi’. Bhapa is a steamed flour sweetened with jaggery and desiccated coconut while chitoi a runny mixture made with flour and salt and then cooked on iron cooking pots to be eaten with mustard paste or chilli chutney.
Meat, eggs and vegetables are also used in preparing some pithas such as vegetable pitha, jhal patishapta and mangsha (meat) patishapta.
Winter here is duly celebrated with the obvious relish of tasty pithas making a shop ‘a place of social gathering’. Pitha is not a mere delicacy but a traditional culture that makes the season enjoyable.
In urban areas, commercially made pithas are gradually replacing home-made ones and specialised shops now sell costly pithas.
Every winter, only a few items like bhapa or chitoi are available on the footpath. For more varieties, a trip to specialised restaurants and fast food shops is a must.
Winter pithas like dudh chitoi, dudh puli, jhal bou, calcutta puli, kheer puli, narkel puli, chandra puli, chitoi, jamai pitha, jhal jamai pitha, kola bora, patishapta, malpoa, bhapa pitha, bhapa puli, shahi puli, phool pakon, nokshi pitha, surjomukhi, chicken pitha, jhal chingri pitha and vapa are sold at some restaurants in the capital at prices as low as Tk 5 per piece and up to Tk 500 per kg.