Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Sharmila'r Chhana'r Jilipi -- the North American way

Chanar Jilipi | Chhanar Jilipi | Paneer Jalebi
Chhanar Jilipi

Chanar Jilipi | Chhanar Jilipi | Paneer Jalebi

Chhanar Jilipi (or Paneer Jalebi) is a typical Bengali sweet made with fresh Chana (Cottage Cheese), Khoya (Milk Solids) and Maida, deep fried in oil and then soaked in sugar syrup. No wonder it tastes delicious. It is very similar in taste to two similar Bengali sweets called Ledikeni and Pantua which have similar ingredients and taste but differ largely in shape. The Bengali Chanar Jilipi is unique because of its Jalebi or pretzel kinda shape.In my non-traditional recipe for Chanar Jilipi, I have used a shortcut with  Ricotta and Bisquick , and that suits me perfectly. These are so, so good that just writing about them makes my mouth water.

Some days I think that the Nobel Committee should introduce a new category in their awards.

The Food Nobel.

I bet, it would be won almost every year by one or the other Bengali in North America. Don't get riled up because I said North America. The Bengalis in India have so much readily available that the common man doesn't need to innovate, they can simply go to the store or make a trip to the home of ma/masi/pishi/jethi.

Truth be told, the amount of research and innovation that goes into recreating a much loved childhood favorite, a traditional Bengali recipe, a forgotten food that lingers in nostalgia; with local ingredients and limited resources, by the Bengali community living away from Bengal, parallels no other.

After discovery of fire and wheel, I have never seen the saying "necessity is the mother of invention" so directly applied anywhere else.

You want to eat mocha'r ghonto and there is no grocery store selling Banana Blossoms ? Raid the asian stores and get soy bean sprouts to make a faux Mochar Ghonto
You want the Rui diye Doi Maach that your Mom made but can't find Rui? Get salmon and make the most of it.
You want to make Enchor er Kofta but have no time or expertise to deal with a actual raw Jackfruit ? Get a can and make this shortcut but delicious Enchor Koftas instead.

This Chhanar Jilipi is one more of those brilliant innovations and this time shared by my friend Sharmila. They are delicious and perfect and if she didn't let me onto her secret, I would have thought she was Balaram Mullick or Bhimnag's granddaughter carrying forward their secret recipes. She has many such expert patents in her repertoire and if you are particularly nice, I can cajole her to share some more!

It was very, very generous of her to share her innovation (which deserves a Nobel) and satisfy our sweet cravings for a favorite childhood mishti. This Chhanar Jilipi is so good that I have made them about 4 times now and the last time I made them, my friends went into a nostalgic trip remembering their Mother's jilipi or favorite sweet shop's creation.

Chhanar Jilipi (or Paneer Jalebi) is a typical Bengali sweet which holds its place is a few ranks above the Ledikeni, which in turn is again a rank above Pantua. All of them are kind of similar except for the shape.
Ledikeni or Lady Kenny, named after Lady Canning, is a light fried reddish-brown sweet, cylindrical in shape and made of Chhena and flour and soaked in sugar syrup. The Chhanar Jilipi has the same ingredients but has Jalebi cum pretzel kinda shape. It is the shape which makes them unique.

*Traditionally Chhanar Jilipi in India is with Chhana and Maida. However Sharmila decided to go the Ricotta + Bisquick way, and that suits me perfectly. These are so, so good that just writing about them makes my mouth water.