Nakshi Pitha variety of rice cake with sundry designs made in villages and urban areas of Bangladesh. It is both a culinary art and an important women's folk art.
In order to make nakshi pitha, dough is prepared by cooking atap-rice (unboiled rice) flour. The dough is then rolled out, and designs of plants, creepers and flowers are pricked out with date thorns, hairpins, needles, jute sticks, twigs, etc. Popular motifs include the lotus and intertwining circles. Pithas are also made by using patterned clay, stone, wood or metal moulds. The pithas are then fried in hot oil and soaked in a sugar syrup.
They may also be dried for later use and kept till needed. Women of greater mymensingh are famous for their dexterity in drawing variegated designs on these pitha, also known pakkuyan, teil pitha, or ful pitha (flower cake). The cakes are named after the designs. Common names are shabkhalata, kajal lata, chiral or chiranpata, hijalpata, sajnepata, uriyaful, bent or bhyat ful, padmadighi, sagardighi, sarpus, champabaran, kanyamukh, jamaimukh, jamaimuchda, satinmuchda, etc.
Designs are also imprinted upon puli pitha which is prepared with a filling of coconut and gud (molasses) or sugar. The edges of a puli pitha are pinched to look like flower petals.
Nakshi pitha of different flavours and shapes are made on various social and religious occasions, on eid, puja festivals, shab-e-barat, muharram, Khatna (circumcision ceremony), weddings, navanna (festival of newly harvested paddy in the month of Agrahayan), Paus festival, annaprashanA (Hindu rite of allowing a child to taste rice for the first time), aqiqah etc.
Nakshi pithas reveal the artistic skills of Bengali women as well as their hospitality which make a simple rice cake not only into a unique culinary but also a visual delight. [Shahida Khatun]
See also pitha.