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Rassogolla Cheese Balls in Syrup

Yield: 4 servings

300 g Paneer
175 g Ricotta cheese
350 g Sugar
1 1/4 l Water

Rub the paneer and ricotta cheese with palm of your hand until smooth
and creamy. Divide into 16 balls.

Boil the sugar and water for 5 minutes over medium heat. Put the balls
into the syrup and boil for 40 minutes.

Cover and continue to boil for another 30 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Paneer (Home-made cottage cheese)

3.5 litres milk
about 250 ml warm water
about 5 Tbsp white vinegar

1.Bring the milk to the boil, stirring constantly, over a high
heat. Remove from heat.

2.Combine the water and vinegar.

3.Slowly add the vinegar solution to the boiled milk, stirring
with a wooden spoon. As soon as the milk curdles, do not add any
more. (The curd and whey will separate.)

4.Place three or four layers of cheesecloth in a sieve and strain
the curdled milk through them. Ties up the ends of the cheesecloth
and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Hang it up to
drain thoroughly.

Note: When adding the water and vinegar mixture to the milk, do not
add more than necessary as this tends to harden the paneer.


Narkeler Payesh Coconut Scented Rice Pudding

Rice pudding prepared with milk is more common in Bengal, but this
coconut milk version, which is quicker to make, has a fragrant, sweet
aroma. Since coconut has an affinity with fish, I often serve this
dish after a seafood meal. Try as is, or arrange slices of fresh ripe
papayas, bananas, or mangoes around the pudding.

This dessert is best enjoyed soon after it is made. If allowed to sit
for several hours, it will become dry. If that happens, add a little
milk (or coconut milk), reheat, and serve.

3/4 cup Basmati or other fine long grain rice
1 1/2 cup water
2 Tbs. raisins (preferably golden)
2 Tbs. toasted cashews or slivered almonds
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. sugar
1 1/4 cups fresh or unsweetened canned coconut milk,
stirred until evenly mixed

Note: You can substitute a mixture of 1/2 cup coconut milk and 3/4 cup
whole or 2% low fat milk

Garnish: chopped raw pistachios

1.Bring rice and water to boil in a pan. Simmer, covered, until
all water is absorbed and rice is tender, 20 or so minutes.

2.Add raisins, cashews, and cardamom. Dissolve sugar in the
coconut milk and stir into the rice mixture gently, so as not to
break the rice kernels. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered
until the mixture thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let
cool slightly. Garnish with pistachios and serve.

6 servings


Cham Cham Pleasure Boats

These milky-white ovals, floating in a clear sweet sauce, are irresistible.

For the dumplings:

Fresh cheese
1 tsp. regular Cream of Wheat
10 to 12 unsalted raw pistachios, chopped

For the syrup:

1 cup sugar
4 cups water

Flavoring: dash of rosewater (optional)

1.Make sure that the fresh cheese is well drained; too much
moisture may cause the dumplings to crack as they cook. Place the
well drained and well kneaded cheese on a board. Sprinkle Cream of
Wheat evenly over the cheese and knead again to uniformly
incorporate it. Let rest a few minutes.

2.Prepare the dumplings: Pinch off portions of the dough and roll
into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Gently insert your little
finger halfway into each ball, place 1 or 2 pistachio bits in the
indentation, and reshape into a smooth ball that doesn`t show any
cracks on the outside. Flatten into an oval about 2 inches long
and 3/4 inches thick. ( Use any remaining pistachios for garnish.)

3.Make the syrup: Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a deep
pan about 10 inches in diameter .. Boil for 10 minutes, then lower
the heat. Place each ball on a spoon and gently lower into the
syrup. Simmer, covered, 1 hour.

4.Transfer cham-chams and any remaining syrup to a large bowl. Let
cool, then refrigerate for several hours or, for best results, up
to 2 days. Sprinkle with rosewater and decorate with any remaining
pistachios.

Makes about 20 cham-chams.


Rasmalai

2 quarts milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
5 whole cardamom pods
1 teaspoon fine grained semolina
3 to 4 drops rose essence
1 quart half and half
1/8 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon shelled, unsalted pistachios

Make the chena with the milk and lemon juice according to the
directions in the preceding recipe with this difference. Hang up the
milk curds for 2 hours instead of 1/2 hour. Knead thoroughly. Make a
ball and set it aside. Put the 3 cups of sugar, 6 cups of water, and
the cardamom pods in a deep 9 1/2 to 10 inch skillet or saute
pan. Bring to a fast simmer over a medium flame. Once the sugar has
dissolved completely, turn the heat to low and let the syrup simmer
gently for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Flatten the ball of chhena and add the semolina as well as the rose
essence to it. Knead for 5 minutes, making sure the semolina and rose
essence are well mixed in. Now make 20 crack-free balls, rolling each
with just a little pressure between the palms of your two hands.

Bring the syrup to a simmer over a medium flame. Drop the balls into
the syrup. Bring to a simmer again. Adjust the heat so the syrup
simmers gently for 5 minutes. During this period, move the balls
around and turn them over occasionally, using a very gentle
touch. Make sure you do not damage the balls. Turn the heat up and
bring the syrup to what might be described as a furious simmer. The
syrup should look like a mass of tiny moving bubbles, but it should
never boil over. Sprinkle the balls with 2 tablespoons of water,
cover, and cook for 10 minutes. During this period, the balls should
swell up.

Uncover, sprinkle the balls with another 2 tablespoons of water, cover
and cook, simmering furiously for another 10 minutes. Turn off the
heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the balls to an empty bowl. (the
syrup can now be discarded. ) Pour the half and half over the balls
and let them soak in it for 3 hours.

Take the balls gently out of the half and half with a slotted spoon
and put them in another bowl. Pour the half and half into a skillet or
saucepan and boil it down until you have about 2 cups left. Turn off
the heat. Crush the cardamom seeds finely in a mortar and mince the
pistachios. Add the crushed cardamom, the minced pistachios, and the
one tablespoon of sugar to the reduced half and half. Pour this half
and half over the chhena balls. Allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate
for at least 2 hours, and serve cold, as a dessert along with the
creamy sauce.


Jelebi Deep Fried Batter Sweets

Yield: 4 servings

Batter

2 c Plain flour
1/2 c Rice flour
7 g Fresh compressed yeast or 1/2 t Dried yeast
1/2 c Lukewarm water
1/4 t Saffron strands
2 T Boiling water
1 T Yoghurt
Vegetable oil for frying

Syrup

3 c Sugar
3 c Water
1 T Light corn syrup
Rose essence to flavour
1 1/2 t Liquid orange food colouring

Sift the flour and rice flour into a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast on the
warm water in a small bowl, leave to soften for 5 minutes and stir to
dissolve. Put saffron strands in a cup and pour the boiling water
over. Leave to soak for 10 minutes.

Pour dissolved yeast and saffron with its soaking water into a
measuring jug. Add tepid water to make up 2 1/4 cups. Stirring with a
wooden spoon, add the measured liquid to the flour and beat well until
batter is very smooth. Add yoghurt and beat again. Leave to rest for
1 hour. Batter will start to become frothy. Beat vigorously again
before starting to fry jelebis. (While batter stands make syrup and
leave it to become just warm).

Heat vegetable oil in a deep frying pan and when hot use a funnel to
pour in the batter, making circles or figures of eight. Frying,
turning once, until crisp and golden on both sides. Lift out on a
slotted spoon, let the oil drain for a fews seconds, then drop the hot
jelebi into the syrup and soak it for a minute or two. Lift out of the
syrup (using another slotted spoon) and put on a plate to drain.

Syrup: Heat sugar and water over low heat, stirring until sugar
dissolves. Raise heat and boil hard for 8 minutes; syrup should be
just thick enough to spin a thread. Remove from heat, allow to cool
until lukewarm, flavour with rose essence (about 1.2 tsp of good
quality essence is sufficient) and colour a bright orange with food
colouring.

*Jelebis are coils of crisply fried batter with a rose-scented syrup
inside the coils. How the syrup gets into the coils is a mystery
unless you do some research on the subject.

This is a traditionally festive sweet. (Moghul custom)