Malai Chomchom – Guest Post for Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen

Bengal is famous for its huge collection of sweets among which those made from Indian cottage cheese or ‘chena’ are the special ones. When my friend Chitra of Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen fame asked me to share a recipe of sweet dish as a guest post, I decided to share something which is a delicacy of Bengal and I chose ‘Malai Chomchom’.

Chomchom is nothing but Rasgulla of different shape, either flat or cylindrical. When it is dipped into a thick concentrated gravy of milk it is called Malai Chomchom.

You are already aware of my indulgence in Chitra’s healthy and everyday recipes. I am a big fan of her innovative ideas and really glad to connect with her in person. It is worth visiting her blog,Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen, where she shares her recipes and ideas. I am really grateful to her for giving me this opportunity.

Malai Chomchom

Malai Chomchom

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Shandesh

“Shandesh”, a dry sweet made from ‘chena’ or Indian cottage cheese, is a speciality of West Bengal & Bangladesh. It comes in different shapes and flavours. Various moulds of different structures are often used to give them some beautiful shapes and decoration. As for flavours, nowadays one can find right from Mango Shandesh to Chocolate Shandesh to Rose falvoured ones. The confectioners use synthetic colours and preservatives to give them a lucrative look. However, if you go for the traditional Shandeshes, which I personally prefer, they are usually milky white in colour and possess a chastity in the feature. However, one can show his/her creative quotient by giving Sandesh the look he/she likes.

After a small break I am posting this recipe. As our Durga Puja ended just few days back, I want to wish you all “Subho Bijoya” and happy Dashera. “Bijoya Dashomi” is incomplete without Rashogolla/Rasgulla and Shandesh.

Shandesh

Shandesh

Ingredients for 10 pieces :

  1. Milk – 4 cups (I used 1.5% fat milk, you can use full fat milk)
  2. Lemon juice/Vinegar – 2 tbspoon (This time I used vinegar to avoid the smell of lemon juice completely)
  3. Caster sugar – ¼ cup
  4. Green cardamom powder – ½ teaspoon (optional)
  5. Few strands of safron
  6. Milk – 1 teaspoon
  7. Pistachio slices for garnishing

Procedure :

Make Chena/Indian Cottage Cheese out of milk and vinegar/lemon juice.

"Chena" or Indian cottage cheese

“Chena” or Indian cottage cheese

Take out the chena on a flat work surface (preferably on a wooden surface) and rub with your palm for 4-5 minutes or until smooth.

Now add cardamom powder and half of the sugar to the chena and mix well. Then add rest of the sugar and mix homogeneously with chena by kneading well for a couple of minutes. Getting mixed with sugar, the chena will turn little soft and watery.

Now cook this chena, stirring continuously, in a nonstick pan over low heat for 5 – 6 minutes to get rid of the raw flavour of chena.

Now transfer the cooked chena on a plate and let it cool down a bit. Again knead the chena for a couple of minutes while still warm.

Now divide the chena into 10 equal parts and give them your desired shape (I made flat round balls, you can make square shape also). At this point the chena balls still remaining soft, however turns dry and hard as getting cold .

For garnishing add milk to the saffron strands and the nice yellow colour of saffron will get into the milk. Now dip your finger tip into this yellow colour and place at the centre of the chena balls, press a bit to make a small indentation.

Garnishing - step 1

Garnishing the Sandesh

Top with pistachio slices.

Sandesh is ready to be served

Shandesh is ready to be served

Note :

  1. For best result prepare the chena one night before and hange the cheese cloth containing chena/cheese overnight to remove the excess water completely.
  2. Don’t over cook the chena otherwise it will become crumbly and difficult to bind.
  3. Garnishing is completely up to you. One can have sandesh without any garnishing at all.

Homemade Paneer

“Paneer” is nothing but a cheese that can be easily made at home. It was first originated in India and serves as a key element in many Indian delicious vegetarian dishes. As it is not always readily available in the market and even sometimes the market bought “paneer” is not that good in taste, it is better to prepare it at home. This is my first attempt wich turns out really well. The recipe is very simple and I hope you will like it.

Homemade Paneer

Homemade Paneer

Ingredients :

  1. Full fat milk – 1 ilt.
  2. Lemon juice – 2 -3 tbspoon
Milk & Lemon

Milk & Lemon

Procedure :

At first you have to make “chena” or Indian cottage cheese by milk and lemon juice. Look for its recipe under “Useful supplementary” tab in my blog. Recipe

"Chena" or Indian cottage cheese

“Chena” or Indian cottage cheese

Shape the curd or “chena” into a block and wrap it tightly with the cloth. Now keep it on a porous surface under heavy pressure so that you can force out more moisture, and shape it into a firmer block, suitable for slicing and frying. You can use any heavy material even a heavy book or pile of books as I often do. The longer you press the cheese, the firmer it gets, so try to leave it for overnight.

Paneer under heavy weight

Paneer under heavy weight

After that you will be ready to cut the paneer block into pieces and use them into your desired recipes. You can also refrigerate this paneer for up to 2 days. Refrigerated paneer will be firmer and less likely to crumble than fresh paneer.

Chanar kalia or Cheese ball curry

“Chanar kalia” or Cheese ball curry is a delicious Bengali side dish. This vegetarian dish goes down very well with Roti, Paratha or even with Plain rice and Pulao. If you don’t have “paneer” in your stock and you are scratching your head to come up with a special vegetarian dish then it could be one of your top choices. It’s rich in taste and easy to make. All you need is just to prepare the cottage cheese or “chena” and take it to the next level with the help of few simple ingredients. Here is the recipe for you.

"Chanar kalia"or Cheese ball curry

“Chanar kalia”or Cheese ball curry

Ingredients to serve 5 or 6 :

  1. Full fat milk – 1 lit.
  2. Lemon juice – 2 – 3 tbspoon
  3. Tomato (large) – 1
  4. Ginger – 1 inch piece
  5. Green chilli – 2
  6. Cashew nut – 6
  7. Plain yogurt – 2 tbspoon
  8. Cumin seeds – ¼ teaspoon
  9. Chilli powder –  ½ teaspoon
  10. Pinch of turmeric powder
  11. Garam masala powder – ½ teaspoon
  12. Flour – 2 tbspoon
  13. Raisin for garnishing
  14. Salt & sugar to taste
  15. Cooking oil

Procedure :

At first you have to make “chena” or Indian cottage cheese by milk and lemon juice. You will find the procedure of making it in the page Chena/Indian cottage cheese under the “Useful supplementary” tab in my blog.

"Chena" or Indian cottage cheese

“Chena” or Indian cottage cheese

Now mix the cheese with flour, pinch of turmeric powder, ¼ teaspoon of chilli powder, ¼ teaspoon of garam masala powder, salt and sugar according to your taste. It should be like a soft dough. Now make medium size balls from this cheese dough, flatten them a bit and fry in oil on low heat.

Fried chena/cheese balls

Fried chena/cheese balls

Make a paste with tomato, ginger, green chilli & cashew nuts.

Tomato, ginger, green chilli & cashew nut

Tomato, ginger, green chilli & cashew nut

Now heat oil in a pan over medium flame. Add cumin seeds, saute it for a while, then add the paste of tomato, ginger, green chilli & cashew nuts. Also add salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Cook until the raw flavour of the ingredients disappear. Then add yogurt and sugar according to your test. Cook for another 2 minutes, then add little amount of water. As the gravy starts boiling add the fried cheese balls into it. Let it cook for few more minutes in covered condition till the gravy thickens as per your preference. Now sprinkle the raisins from the top. Serve with roti or paratha.

"Chanar kalia" with Paratha

“Chanar kalia” with Paratha

Note :

  1. If you have time in your hand then make a separate paste of cashew nuts and add after cooking the tomato, ginger and green chilli paste.
  2. Try to use less amount of flour in the cheese dough to keep the original flavour of cheese intact.
  3. The heat should be on low while frying the cheese balls otherwise they will burn and remain uncooked from inside.
  4. You can use less chillis if you find the recipe too spicy and hot for you.

 

Rasmalai or Rashomalai

“Rasmalai” is another popular Indian sweet dish made from milk, and one of my favourites too. The only way out not to stay deprived from these dear dishes, here far away from India, is to prepare them at my own kitchen. So, here comes the recipe of Rasmalai for you which you can try with ease. If you liked the recipe of Rasgulla, you will like Rasmalai for sure. Enjoy !!!!!!!!

Delicious Rasmalai or Roshomalai

Delicious Rasmalai or Roshomalai

Ingredients for 12 – 14 Rasmalai :

  1. Full fat milk – 2 lit.
  2. Lemon juice – 2 – 3 tbspoon
  3. Granulated Sugar – 300 gm.
  4. Semolina  – ½ teaspoon
  5. Powdered sugar – 1 tbspoon
  6. Green cardamom – 2 – 3
  7. Sliced pistachio – ½ tbspoon
  8. Almond – 3 – 4
  9. Few strand of saffron
Ingredients

Ingredients

Procedure :

Making of “Rasmalai” consists of two major steps. First step is to make “Ras” which is nothing but a “flat Rasgulla” and the second one is to prepare “Malai”, which is a concentrated milk flavoured with saffron, cardamom, pistachio and almond in which the “Ras” is immersed.

Step 1 : Making of “Ras”

At first you have to prepare “chena”or Indian cottage cheese with 1 lit. of the milk and lemon juice. For this recipe look into the page entitled Chena/Indian cottage cheese under the “Useful Supplementary” tab in my blog.

"Chena" or Indian cottage cheese

“Chena” or Indian cottage cheese

In order to squeeze out the excess water from the cheese either hang the cheese cloth containing the cheese for at least 30 minutes or keep it under heavy pressure for approx. 10 – 15 minutes. You can use any heavy material even a heavy book as I often do.

Now place the cheese on a clean flat surface and knead with your palm for 7 minutes. Then add semolina and powdered sugar and again knead for another 7 minutes or until you get a smooth dough. Leave the cheese dough for 1o minutes so that semolina can absorb the water from the cheese and mingle well with it.

Kneading of chena with pulm

Kneading of chena with palm

Now make 12 – 14 smooth cheese balls from this dough. Flatten them a bit pressing by hand to get the shape of Rasmalai.

Round & flat cheese balls

Round & flat cheese balls

Now take 80 gm. of granulated sugar and 1 cup of water in a pressure cooker to make the sugar syrup for flat rasgullas. Put the pressure cooker on medium flame and let the sugar dissolve. As the mixture starts to boil put the flat cheese balls into it and cover with the lid. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes over low flame or until you get the first whistle. Don’t uncover it immediately, let it come to the room temperature, otherwise the cheese balls will shrink and you will not get the desired sponginess. In the meanwhile let’s make the “Malai”.

Step 2 : Making of “Malai”

Take the remaining 1 lit. of milk in a heavy bottomed pan. Boil the milk over medium heat till it reduces to half of its volume, stir occasionally so that it does not get burnt from the bottom. This process takes a long time so have patience. In the meantime slice the almonds and grind few of it and few of sliced pistachios. Also grind the green cardamoms. Add remaining sugar, cardamom, saffron strands, grounded almond and pistachio into the reduced milk. Boil the milk for few more minutes until the sugar get completely dissolved into it. Now let it also come into the room temperature.

Assembling of “Ras” & “Malai” :

"Ras" & "Malai"

“Ras” & “Malai”

Squeeze the sugar syrup from the “flat rasgullas” or “ras” and immerse them into the “malai”. Garnish with sliced almon and pistachio.

Garnishing Rasmalai with Almond & Pistachio

Garnishing Rasmalai with Almond & Pistachio

Leave it like this for at least 30 minutes before serving so that the “malai” can well be absorbed by “Ras”.

Rasmalai is ready to serve

Rasmalai is ready to serve

 Note :

  1. Don’t add lemon juice in very hot milk. The result would be a hard cheese which is not desirable for this recipe.
  2. For best result make the “chena” or cottage cheese the night before your day of preparation. Hang the cheese cloth containing cheese overnight in order to remove the excess water.
  3. The amount of water to make “Rasmalai” sugar syrup should be less than that of “Rasgulla” syrup. For the fact that here the cheese balls should interact with the surface of the vessel to maintain its flat shape. (Ref. Rasgulla recipe).
  4. Don’t overcrowd the vessel/pressure cooker with cheese balls. There should be enough space left in the vessel for cheese balls to turn double in size. So if you have quite a large number of cheese balls then divide them into batches before putting them into the pressure cooker.

 

 

 

 

Kalakand

“Kalakand” is a very popular Indian sweet. It is made during different festivals and celebrations in India. Today I am giving you a very simple recipe of making it at home. Packed with calcium and protein, this energy rich recipe is just what you need to perk you up on a slow day.

Kalakand

Kalakand

Ingredients for 9 – 12 pieces :

  1. Whole Milk – 2 liters
  2. Lemon juice – 2 tbspoon
  3. Powdered sugar – ½ cup
  4. Thinly sliced pistachio for garnishing
  5. Ghee for greasing

Procedure :

First of all make “cottage cheese” or “paneer” or “chena” with 1 lit. (approx. 4 cups) of the milk. For its recipe look into the page entitled Chena/Indian cottage cheese under the “Useful Supplementary” tab in my blog.

In a heavy bottomed pan boil the remaining 1 lit milk on medium flame until it reduces to half, stir occasionally so that it doesn’t get burnt at the bottom. After squeezing the water very well from the “paneer” break them into small pieces and add to the half reduced milk in the pan. Now cook this, stirring continuously, till it becomes a kind of dough and starts leaving the pan from the bottom (i.e. all the moisture evaporates and a solid mass remains). Then add the sugar and stir for another 2 or 3 minute to incorporate the sugar very well into the dough. After adding the sugar you will get a soft dough in a lump form. Now transfer it in a plate greasing with ghee and flat it out in  a ½ inch thick square and level the surface. Now sprinkle the sliced pistachios on top while it is still warm so that the pistachio can stay on the top of the Kalakand well. Now leave it to set for a few hours in a cool, dry place. When completely set, cut into squares or diamonds.

Kalakand

New York Cheesecake with Strawberry sauce topping

“Cheesecake” is a mouth-watering dessert, perfect enough to impress a special one on a special occasion. It consists of two or more layers, mainly a crust at the bottom and a thick soft cheese layer over that. Cheesecakes can be broadly categorized into two basic types: baked and unbaked. Each comes in a variety of styles determined by region. Today I am giving you the recipe of baked New York cheesecake. It’s very simple to make. Hope you will like it.

New York Cheesecake

New York Cheesecake

Ingredients to serve 8 – 10 :

  1. Butter – 6 tbspoon
  2. Digestive biscuits/Graham crackers (crushed) – 200 gm.
  3. Cream Cheese – 400 gm. (Those who don’t get the cream cheese try this recipe with cottage cheese or “chena” and please let me know how was it )
  4. Soured cream – 450 ml.
  5. Large eggs – 2
  6. Caster sugar – 140 gm. (approx. ¾ cup)
  7. Vanilla extract – 1½ teaspoon
  8. Lemon zest – ½ teaspoon
  9. sunflower oil for brushing
  10. 20-cm/8-inch Springform pan

For Strawberry Sauce topping

  1. Frozen unsweetened strawberry – 250 gm.
  2. Caster sugar – 55 gm. (approx. ¼ cup)
  3. Cold water – 1 tbspoon
  4. unflavored gelatin powder – 1 teaspoon

Procedure :

Put the biscuits/Graham crackers in plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin until they are fine in texture or you simply crush them in a food processor. You can also use the graham cracker crumbs available in the market.

Melt the butter in a pan over low heat. Stir in the crushed biscuits, then spread in a 20-cm/8-inch Springform pan or tin brushed with oil. Now bake it for 6 – 8 min. in a preheated oven at 165°C.

Now place the cream cheese, eggs, 100 gm (approx. ½ cup) of the sugar, ½ teaspoon of the vanilla extract and the lemon zest in a large bowl and mix well with a hand mixer or put them in a food processor and process until smooth. Pour this mixture over the biscuit base in the spingform pan and smooth the top. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven, 160°C/325°F, for 50 – 55 min. until set (but the center should be little wet). Remove from the oven and leave for 20 min. Leave the oven on.

Mix the soured cream with the remaining sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl. Spoon over the cheesecake in the springform pan. Return it to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, take a spatula or knife and run it around the inside of the cheesecake (the reason is to do that the cheesecake dose shrink as it cools and if we didn’t do that we will get a lot of cracking). Now let it come to the room temperature. Cover the pan containing the cheesecake with a clean foil and refrigerate it for couple of hours.

To make the strawberry topping take the frozen strawberries, thaw them out completely and then blend them in a blender along with the sugar until nice and smooth and then pour in a saucepan. Now to activate the gelatin take one tbspoon of cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of gelatin powder over it, leave it for 2 or 3 minutes until it becomes spongy. Now put the saucepan containing the strawberry sauce on stove over medium heat just to warm it (don’t boil). Then add the spongy gelatin into it and stir gently putting the gas in low to dissolve the gelatine. It will take like a minute or two. Skim off the foams forming on the top of the sauce and let it come to the room temperature.

Take out the cheesecake from the refrigerator and pour the strawberry sauce slowly over it keeping the cheesecake in the springform pan. Then again refrigerate it for about 3 – 4 hours covering with a fresh foil. For best result refrigerate it overnight. After that take out the cheesecake from the pan. You can leave the cheesecake in the bottom plate of the springform pan or you can place it in a serving plate. Now you can decorate it by placing a nice looking strawberry cut into slices (not all the way through) at the center of the cake. Cut a pie and serve the beautiful dessert.

New York Cheesecake

Bengali’s Popular Dessert “Rasgulla” or “Roshogolla”

“Rasgulla” is a speciality of Bengal. This is my first blog post and I am sharing the recipe of it with you. It is a less ingredient and less time consuming recipe. Hope you will like it. Now surprise your near and dear ones by making it at home.

Rasgulla

Rasgulla

Ingredients for 12 pieces :

  1. Milk (2%) – 4 cups
  2. Lemon juice – 2 tablespoon
  3. Fine semolina – 1 teaspoon
  4. Sugar – 1½ cups
  5. Water – 4½ cups

Procedure :

The first step of making “Rasgulla” is to prepare “chena” or Indian cottage cheese. For its recipe look into the page entitled Chena/Indian cottage cheese under the “Useful Supplementary” tab in my blog.

"Chena" or Indian cottage cheese

“Chena” or Indian cottage cheese

In order to squeese out excess water from the cheese either hang the cheese cloth containing the cheese for at least 30 minutes or keep it under heavy pressure for at approx. 10 – 15 minutes. To do that you can use a heavy book also like me.

Now make small pieces of that chena and put them into a mixer. Mix it for couple of minutes and take it out on a clean, flat surface and again knead it with the palm for 5 minutes until the dough becomes very smooth. You can skip the step with the mixer and do it only by hand which I prefer. At the middle of the kneading process add the semolina.

Kneading of chena with pulm

Kneading of chena with pulm

Then start making equal size, crack-free, small balls out of this dough.

Making of cheese balls

Making of cheese balls

I have finished with 14 balls. You can increase or decrease this number according to your desired size of Rasgullas. Don’t make these balls too large as they will be double in size after getting into the sugar syrup.

14 cheese balls redy to get into the sugar syrup

14 cheese balls ready to get into the sugar syrup

Now it’s time to make the sugar syrup. Be careful while making the sugar syrup. It should not be very dense otherwise it will not be absorbed properly by chena. Take a pressure cooker, pour 4½ cups of water and 1½ cups of sugar into it. Put it on the stove and let the sugar dissolve completely. Add the balls of chena after boiling the syrup for few minutes. Put the lid of the cooker and let it cook for 5-7 minutes on medium-low flame or until you get the first whistle. Put the gas off. Please don’t unlid the cooker immediately, let it come to the room temperature and then open it. Otherwise the rasgullas will shrink and you will never get the desired sponginess.

Rasgullas are ready to be served

Rasgullas are ready to be served

Now you are ready to serve the delicious ‘rasgullas’.

Note :

  1. Don’t add lemon juice in very hot milk. The result would be a hard cheese which is not desirable for this recipe.
  2. For best result make the “chena” or cottage cheese the night before your day of preparation. Hang the cheese cloth containing cheese overnight in order to remove the excess water.
  3. The amount of water to make “Rasgulla” sugar syrup should be more than that of “Rasmalai” syrup. For the fact that here the cheese balls should not interact with the surface of the vessel to maintain its round shape.(Ref. Rasmalai recipe)
  4. Don’t overcrowd the vessel/pressure cooker with cheese balls. There should be enough space for cheese balls to turn double in size inside the vessel. So if you have quite a large number of cheese balls then divide them into batches before putting them into the pressure cooker.