Sunga Pitha is a traditional delicacy specially prepared for Magh Bihu (Makar Shankranti festival) only in Assam. In Assamese language "Sunga" means Bamboo tube and "Pitha" means Cake.This Sunga pitha is prepared on "Uruka" night (the night before Bihu). In subsequent images I have tried explaining the interesting process of preparing this Sunga Pitha.
Sunga Pitha is prepared using only "Bora" rice ( Oryza glutinosa). To start with, Bora rice is soaked in water for 2-3 hours. Then it is put in a bamboo tube such a way that the tube will be half filled with this soaked Bora rice.
Fill the bamboo tubes with water and rice. The remaining halves of the Bamboo tubes are then filled completely with water.
Once Bamboo tubes are filled it is then corked with either banana leaves or hay to prevent the rice from oozing out of the tube.
The special arrangement Now it is the time to burn the Sungas. This requires a special arrangement. The Sungas are kept in an inclined angle on a bamboo stick that is balanced on two bamboo crosses at the end. This whole Bamboo set up is then placed on a bed of "Kher" or Hay.
The Kher (Assamese term of Hay) is used to burn the Sungas because hay is very eco friendly and it is readily available during the season. Besides Sungas are required to be burnt on a low flame for a prolonged time which is only possible using the hay fire.
Here is how the Sungas are burnt. .At the beginning a small heap of hay is burnt, to which additional hay is added in regular interval.
Keep changing the positions of the tube...The positions of the tubes has to be kept on changing to burn all the sides equally.
Final touch!! The whole process takes somewhere between 45 minutes to 1 hour.
After the burning is completed sungas will look like this. They got burned but still intact. Sunga pitha is now ready
The serving etiquette...Sunga Pithas can't be served immediately after cooking. They are required to remain in the burnt Bamboo tube for minimum 10-12 hours before serving. The above four images depicts how the Pithas are taken out from the bamboo tubes.
The yummy delicacy is ready to serve. Here is how the Sunga Pitha looks! This Pitha taste best with Doi (Curd) and Chura (Liquid jaggery).