Sunday, November 03, 2013

Bengali Rasgulla or Roshogolla

Bengali Rasgulla or Roshogolla
Bengali Rasgulla or Rosogolla
Every year around late October, early November; when the leaves turn on their color spray to dress up in gorgeous red and blinding yellows, the wind picks up tugging at the branches and blowing away the pretty colored leaves to the land of warm sun, the tip of the nose turns cold and nice to touch and all you want from life is a few extra minutes under the warm quilt in the morning, I have this sense of foreboding thinking of approaching winter. "Babba, sheet eshe gelo, abar sei March obdi thanda," I complain, with a melancholy look at the calendar.

You know by now, that I am not one of the cheerful optimists out there. I don't see the glass half full.



It is for people like me however, that pre-historic or maybe historic men and women, had decided to plug in the months of October, November and December with all kinds of festivities that involve heavy eating, superfluous drinking, colorful lights and butter-ghee-sugar. Those are the best antidotes for any kind of depression or sense of foreboding one might have in life. Of course they did not tout the festival as orgies or as "days of abundant revelry". That might not have sold it to the intelligentsia. So they said, it is all because Lord Rama came back a winner from fourteen years of exile and the people of Ayodhya made mysore pak and lit a hundred lamps to celebrate Diwali, that sisters should dot their brother's forehead and ply them with food on Bhai Phonta because  in some mythical tale Yamuna had done the same for Yam, that the Pilgrims wanted to thank someone on Thanksgiving by eating Turkey and a bearded old man from North Pole wants to give gifts to all children in the dead of winter.



That is enough reason to convince me. I forget the impending doom a la winter for the moment. So we string on twinkling fairy lights that shine as the night gets dark and neighborhood quiet, the girls dress up as a fairy and a witch and collect enough candy to last a lifetime on Halloween, we dust old diyas that the girls had once painted and light up fourteen lights on Bhoot Chaturdashi. And then I also try my hand at making Roshogolla. It is Diwali after all. There has to be some sweet.

Now, Roshogolla or how it is famously known as Bengali rasgulla was not a dessert after my heart. Maybe because , it was the one sweet which my parents thought was safe and healthy enough to be consumed by the gallons. While I craved a gulab jamun or jalebi, it was the roshogolla which appeared much more frequently in our home, bobbing in sweet syrup, waiting to be picked from an earthenware pot. Since it was not fried in oil and was made of nothing but pure chhana, it was assumed that fresh warm roshogolla from the mishtir dokan was the best thing for a child to have almost everyday.If you were down with a fever, or were recuperating from a bad stomach, warm roshogolla straight off the bhiyen was what was served to bring back the taste.



One would think, being around the rasgulla day in and day out, I would grow some interest towards it. But I actually completely ignored it. Many years later when I started working and moved to B'lore, I realized the power of this sweet. Fellow Indians, who had very little idea of Bengal or a Bangali, were quick to familiarize themselves by saying "I simply love rasgulla". They probably thought the same when I said, "I loved Masala Dosa way more that any Rasgulla".

Soon we were carrying tins of K.C.dass's rasgulla as a return gift from Calcutta and even the first time we came to US, we carried a couple of those Rasgulla tins. I secretly laughed at people who thought this as a dessert to hanker after. Really, Roshogolla ?



I also assumed that it was a very difficult thing to make, given that my Mother who always made sweets like narkel naru, paayesh, malpoa or even sondesh at home, bought roshogolla from mishti'r dokan. The first time that a friend in the US, made it for her daughter's birthday, I was bowled over. She was a wonderful cook and so I naturally thought that making rasgulla at home was something that only someone as good a cook as J could do.

And then a couple of years ago, another friend K whom we have known since ages, non-chalantly made us a batch of roshogolla when we were visiting. Not only that, he also mentioned in a very matter of fact way, that  he makes roshogolla almost every week. Now, K was not someone who was hugely interested in cooking until like 3 years back. All of a sudden, he has discovered this culinary mojo and has been on a roll ever since. He is more in the league of people like me. His making roshogolla, gave me enough confidence that this was a sweet that could be easily done at home. However, since he always made us a big batch when we visited, I did not feel the urge to do the same again in my kitchen.

This is the point where the blog comes in. Several people wrote to me asking for a Roshogolla recipe. I always asked them to follow Manjula's Video. After all that is how K had learned too. And then came Diwali. There was pressure to post a Mishti recipe even if I did not want to eat it. I tried to coax the husband-man to make roshogolla citing the shining example of K who makes like billions of them for his wife. Husband-man refused point blank. And he did not even have enough reasons. He said he would rather make Mysore pak or even Biriyani. Dude, really ? Mysore Pak and Biriyani, when I am asking you to make Roshogolla ? What is the logic ? But husband-man rarely lives life by logic. So there was war and smoke and finally a resolution was reached, he would make only the chhana, rest was my responsibility. Calls were made to K and instructions duly noted.

Ultimately the husband-man got around doing more, including the syrup but honestly after the part called "Make Chhana", there is hardly anything to do. So, get going and make your own roshogolla at home. If like me, you have been putting it off for all these years, take the plunge, it is really really easy. The best part of making them at home was to see the happiness in dessert loving LittleSis's face who devoured them morning and night.


Sometimes, all one needs in life is a little light, to show the way. This Diwali may you find your light and also light up the way for others.
Happy Diwali and may your life be as sweet and pure as the Rasgulla
Bengali Rasgulla or Roshogolla

There is enough dispute about this sweet cheese balls being discovered in Orissa or West Bengal and as to who discovered the original form and who modified it. This sweet has its origin in Orissa but the soft, spongy version I have made is the the kind that Nobin Chondro Das of Bengal popularized and is now famously known as Bengali rasgulla.
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Step 1-- Curdle Milk

Mix 4 tbsp of Lemon juice in 1/2 cup of hot water

Bring 1/2 gallon(8 cups) of Whole/Full Fat Milk to a rolling boil. Don't go on a diet and use anything less that Full fat Whole Milk.
When the milk is boiling add the diluted lemon juice. Lower the heat. Almost in seconds you will see the milk curdle and clumps of white milk solids forming.When you see the greenish water separating take it off from heat. Let it sit for 30 secs or so.

Step 2 -- Drain chhana

Now line a colander with cheesecloth and drain the chhana/chenna/paneer. The greenish hued whey is great for making roti dough says my Ma. Next lightly rinse the chhana with water to remove the lemony taste and let it drain.
After few minutes gather the ends of the cheesecloth to form a purse like shape and squeeze out the remaining water from the chhana. Next put it on a flat plate and weigh it with a slightly heavier object and let it remain like that for the next hour.I used my mortar for weighing down, I remember my mother using her nora.You can also weigh it down with a pot filled with water.
It is very important that the chhana is drained of all excess water. After an hour, try squeezing the chhana again. If there is still some water, weigh it down with a heavy object for some more time. If you can take a little of the chana and roll it into a ball and it is not crumbling, then the water has been drained.



Step 3 -- Knead Chhana

Now we have to knead the chhana. This is a very important step for the roshogolla to be right. Knead the chhana with the heel of your palm for about 8-9 minutes.
At the end of this the chhana will look like a smooth dough and your palm will be greasy from the fat of the chhana. Take small portion of it and roll into small balls between your palm. The balls should be smooth and firm. To make the balls thus, first apply a little pressure between your palm and then let go, rolling the ball very lightly by a circular motion of your palms.
Approximately 24-28 balls will be made from this measure



Step 4 -- Make syrup

We did the rasgulla in a pressure cooker as K said. He also does it in an open pot but then he has more experience so we went with the pressure cooker.
Mix 4 cups of Water + 1&1/2 cup sugar in a pressure cooker to make the syrup. Add a few small cardamom and few strands of saffron to the syrup. The safforn will make the rasgullas a pale yellow, so if you want pristine white rasgullas DO NOT add saffron.
Keep it at medium high heat and bring to boil.

Step 5 -- Make Rasgullas

Add about 10 raw chhana/paneer balls to the syrup and close the pressure cooker. After the pressure cooker starts steaming, turn the heat to medium and cook for about 7 minutes.
Switch off heat and wait for 2 minutes. Now release the pressure of the cooker by putting it under running cold tap water. Open the pressure cooker lid and you will see your rasgullas all puffed up and sweet, floating in the syrup.
Now remove these rasgullas along with little of the syrup in a bowl.

Note:I did only 10 at a time as my pressure cooker was smaller and as the rasgulla swells up on cooking, I did not want to crowd them. Also I found the syrup was enough for all the 24-28 rasgullas and so I did in batches of 10, 10 and 8.

To make the next batch put the pressure cooker with syrup back on heat and follow the same process for the next 10 rasgullas.

Serve warm. The best way. Serve chilled. The next best way. Make Roshogollar Paayesh. The third best way.


21 comments:

  1. So you're not insisting on cow's milk? It sounds pretty easy, except the kneading part. Still cannot forget the taste of the rasgulla I had in a small roadside shop near Kalighat, I have the photo in a post on my blog, they were the absolute best.

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  2. Loves for the recipe! thanks dear!

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  3. I was surprised that so far you didn't have a Roshogolla recipe - would have assumed that Bong Mom would have had this on her blog naturally! I was also very curious to see your recipe, because I once had to make Roshogolla for a local TV and I really really struggled to get my Roshogolla correctly. Making them in a pressure cooker sounds very interesting coz mine were becoming hard in my first few attempts. Roshogollar Payesh would be what like Rosho Malai or something else?

    http://ishitaunblogged.com/2012/10/24/rasgulla-macapuno-on-tv-shubho-bijoya-to-all/

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    1. This turned out very easy Ishita. I have to see if I can repeat the same performance each time. But this friend,K, I talked about, he makes it all the time this way and turns out great. Once he added a little maida to the chhana and that made it little harder. Boiling for a longer time will also do that.

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    2. Roshogollar paayesh is this : http://www.bongcookbook.com/2010/11/rosogollar-payesh-shortest-cut.html which I think passes off as ras malai but I always thought rasmalai has to have chapta and not round mishti

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    3. Do you have these in your book too? :D

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    4. I have to try the Pressure cooker method. I too thought that RasaMalais were chapta. Will let you know how it went:)

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  4. whenever i try making rasogollas they turn out to be hard. This pressure cooker idea sounds good. will surely try. Just one thing i needed to ask, do we wait for whistles or just once it starts hissing we turn off?

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  5. I followed Manjula's recipe came out perfect! But DH complained they were soft and liked the "tin Haldiram" which is bit hard. I kneaded the chana in mixer, used the whip knob and came out perfect !

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  6. Yum Yum Yum!! If I were to cook it in the open, how long should they be steamed?

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  7. Hi Sandeepa,

    I love reading your blog, and am very happy that you’re doing what you do… teaching people to cook with healthy ingredients is so important in fostering a healthy life and more importantly a healthy future. Today I am contacting you because I too am trying to do my part in getting people to eat and live healthier. In 2008 I set on a quest to look for the ideal cooking pot, one that would give me all the nutrients from the food being cooked without adding its own ingredients or contaminants. It was a personal happening that led me to do this and all my research pointed out in one direction -- Pure Clay. After several years of research and travel I set out to make my line of pure clay cooking pots and their made in the USA. I had benefited so much from cooking in these pots that I had to share it with the world.

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  8. I love this recipe. it looks so beautiful and yummy. the presentation of the food is excellent. thanks for shared this yummy recipe.
    integrated receivables management

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  9. Those trees, stunning! We never get quite that shade of red here. This year, what I've decided not to do is ghyan-ghyan about winter. "Babba, sheet eshe gelo, abar sei March obdi thanda," is MY line. Only here, it's April. And wet. And grey. (Ok, maybe a little ghyan-ghyan, then.)
    The only time I tried rashogolla - a disaster. This time, will take the laptop into the kitchen and follow you to the T. xx

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  10. Hey Sandeepa,
    I have been reading your blog but never interacted yet with you.Your writings and recipes are simply awesome!! Well done.
    I am a Punjabi and in love with Bong dishes. I find your blog providing me an insight not only to recipes , ingredients but also tales, traditions behind any given recipe.This helps me understand Bengali Culture better that I am in awe of!
    I am yet to lay my hands on your book and I am sure its going to be as fantastic as your blog. Love reading you. Keep writing!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hey Sandeepa,
    I have been reading your blog but never interacted yet with you.Your writings and recipes are simply awesome!! Well done.
    I am a Punjabi and in love with Bong dishes. I find your blog providing me an insight not only to recipes , ingredients but also tales, traditions behind any given recipe.This helps me understand Bengali Culture better that I am in awe of!
    I am yet to lay my hands on your book and I am sure its going to be as fantastic as your blog. Love reading you. Keep writing!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey Sandeepa,
    I have been reading your blog but never interacted yet with you.Your writings and recipes are simply awesome!! Well done.
    I am a Punjabi and in love with Bong dishes. I find your blog providing me an insight not only to recipes , ingredients but also tales, traditions behind any given recipe.This helps me understand Bengali Culture better that I am in awe of!
    I am yet to lay my hands on your book and I am sure its going to be as fantastic as your blog. Love reading you. Keep writing!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey Sandeepa,
    I have been reading your blog but never interacted yet with you.Your writings and recipes are simply awesome!! Well done.
    I am a Punjabi and in love with Bong dishes. I find your blog providing me an insight not only to recipes , ingredients but also tales, traditions behind any given recipe.This helps me understand Bengali Culture better that I am in awe of!
    I am yet to lay my hands on your book and I am sure its going to be as fantastic as your blog. Love reading you. Keep writing!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Sandeepa,
    I have been following your wonderful blog but never interacted with you yet!! Your unique writing style brings about a special interest in every recipe.
    I am a Punjabi person with a passion for bong recipes. Through your blog you have not only provided an insight to recipes, ingredients but also enlightened a non Bengali person like me with traditions and culture behind so many of the recipes.
    I am yet to lay my hands on your book !!! I am sure its as fantastic as your blog! Love reading you...Keep Writing!!

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  15. I trying right now but I am surprised by the small amount of cheese I get with 2 liters of milk. A small cup.
    Is it normal? Great blog by the way! Love it!

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    Replies
    1. Depends on the milk. Did you use whole milk ?

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