EVENT: SHHH COOKING SECRETLY
THEME: DIWALI SWEETS AND SAVOURIES
RECIPE: KESAR RASGULLA
What is Kesar Rasgulla?
Kesar Rasgulla is a saffron flavored traditional sweet dish that is famous in the Indian Subcontinent. Kesar means saffron in Hindi. And Rasgulla is a sweet dumpling made from cottage cheese, paneer or chenna. The balls are rolled and then allowed o cook in a sugar syrup. The sugar syrup is usually flavored with cardamom and sometimes other ingredients like rose essence, rose petals, saffron, mint, chilli, etc are added. This adds a different flavour to the rasgulla. As a matter of fact, one is rasgulla and plural is rasgullas. Translated into simple language ras is juice and gulla is a ball. So actually rasgulla means a juicy ball.
The first time ever I had the opportunity to taste rasgulla and ras malai was when I got married. My mother in law use to make really delicious spongy rasgullas. Whenever we had dinner parties, she’d sometimes make rasgullas. As it was always a huge quantity, I’d help her to knead the chenna or paneer(cottage cheese) and roll them into balls. So, I actually learnt how to make rasgulla and rasmalai from her. When she left for India, I sort of stopped making them at home. The reason being that we get lovely soft spongy rasmalai and rasgulla from the ISKCON temple.
Why did I decide to make Kesar Rasgulla?
You may think that if I’m able to buy the yummiest rasgulla from the temple why would I bother to make them at home? Well, the answer is the Covid Pandemic. Definitely, life has changed drastically for all of us. That includes the temple being closed too along with their restaurant and snack shop. Hubby, had a craving for rasgulla and kept on pestering me to make them. The actual plan was to make Chirote or Pandri Puri as I know it. However, Chirote plan was put on a hold and kesar rasgulla put into action.
- Some more Diwali Recipes using Milk:
- Saffron Tapioca Pudding easy to make and delicious.
- Mini Saffron and Fruity Chum Chum – oval shaped ragulla are served with cream and fruit.
- An easy to make fruity kheer – Apple Kheer
- Doodh Pak – its usually made most Patel Homes on Kalichaudas day, part of the Diwali celebrations.
- Basundi is another milk based Gujarati sweet that is made instead of Doodh Pak. Its more thicker, and rice is not added like in Doodh Pak. Sometimes fresh fruit is added to make it more exotic.
- Want to serve something different? Then why not try Carrot Coconut Kheer.
- Makhana and Dry Fruit Kheer is another different milk based sweet dish
- The basic rice kheer just got better – try Fruit and Rice Kheer
- Don’t want to make kheer? Then go for Shrikhand.
- Make this easy Marble Barfi before the festivities begin.
- Homemade Coconut Barfi – made from fresh grated coconut
A bit about the group:
Members of this group give their partners two secret ingredients according to the theme decided and prepare a dish. Once the dish is ready we add the photo only and other members try and guess the secret ingredients. Towards the end of the month the secret is revealed when we share the recipe link. This month’s theme Diwali Sweets and Savouries was suggested by Poonam who blogs at Annapurna. I’ve known Poonam for quite a number of years now and I totally am amazed at the energy she has. There is not one festival that she will miss. She celebrates them all with her family by performing the relevant pooja, food offering to God and sometimes with fasting too. You have to check out her Chappan Blog for Lord Krishna that she prepared for the last day of Adhik Maas.
This month my partner is Pavani who blogs at Pavani’s Kitchen. Coincidentally, we gave each other the same ingredients, cardamom and sugar. Worked well for both of us as Pavani has made Rasmalai. Actually, this Diwali I’m planning to make her healthier Cornflakes Chivda.
Ingredients Required for Kesar Rasgulla:
Milk – Cow’s milk, full fat is the best.
Sugar – I’ve used refined sugar.
Cardamom Powder – elachi, a coarse powder is best.
Saffron – kesar. Can omit saffron if you want plain rasgulla.
Lemon Juice or Vinegar – used to curdle the milk so that we can make the paneer or chenna.
Some Useful Tips to bear in mind when making Kesar Rasgulla:
- Don’t use ready made paneer as its too dry to make rasgulla.
- When you curdle the milk, don’t cook the ‘cheese’ or chenna/paneer. It will become tough.
- Best to use full fat milk
- Use a big wide pan so that when the chenna balls are boiling, there is enough space for them to move about.
- Some recipes call for more sugar but I found 1 cup more than enough for our taste.
- The amount of chenna or paneer you will get from milk will depend on different brands of milk. I find that in India using one litre is enough for nearly 12 -14 balls. In Kenya I have to use half litre more.
- After the cooking or boiling time is over, keep the lid on the pan and allow the rasgulla to rest in the syrup for at least 2-3 hours so they remain spongy and soft.
- Some add a little plain flour of fine semolina but I’ve never tried how they would turn out.
- Gluten Free
- Best consumed in moderation of the sugar
- 1½ litres full fat milk
- 2-3 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
- 1 cup refined sugar
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- ¼ tsp saffron
- 4 cups water
Preparation of the Paneer/ Chenna:
- Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat till it comes to a boil.
- Take the pan off the heat.
- Add 2-3 tbsp of lemon juice and mix gently. Allow the milk to rest for 2-3 minutes.
- Put the pan back on medium heat. The milk will begin to curdle.
- When you see the whey or the greenish liquid, take the pan off the heat.
- Gently stir the mixture with a spoon or spatula. Curdled milk will gather up into lumps.
- Drape a colander with a cheesecloth.
- Pour the curdled milk mixture into the cheesecloth.
- Wash the paneer or chenna under running cold water. This stops the paneer from cooking further and also removes the lemon juice or vinegar.
- Gather the ends of the cloth and squeeze the chenna gently to remove excess water.
- Place the chenna with the cheesecloth in the colander again. Cover the chenna with the cloth.
- Put a small flat lid or plate on top of the bundle of covered chenna. Place a brick or something heavy over it. This helps to remove the excess water faster.
- Leave for about 30 minutes.
Preparation of the Chenna/ Paneer Balls:
- Remove the chenna from the cheesecloth into a big bowl or tray.
- Knead the chenna using the heel of yoru palm till its soft smooth and it no longer sticky. This takes about 5-10 minutes.
- Divide the chenna into 12 -14 parts.
- Roll each part into a ball that is completely smooth without any cracks.
Preparation of Rasgulla:
- Take a big wide pan with a lid.
- Add water, sugar, cardamom and saffron.
- Place the pan over medium heat and bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Add the chenna balls gently to the boiling sugar water.
- Allow the chenna balls to boil for 20 minutes.
- Switch the heat off after 20 minutes. Don't be tempted to open the lid as the ragullas may deflate.
- Allow the ragullas to cool down in the syrup without opening the lid for at 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- For chilled rasgulla, put in the fridge with the syrup for about 30- 60 minutes.
- Serve Kesar Rasgulla with a little syrup drizzled over it.
- Make sure the chenna mixture is smooth and not sticky after kneading it.
- Don't use less water otherwise the syrup will become thick and the rasgulla will not cook properly.
- If you don't have lemon or vinegar to curdle the milk use ¼ cup plain yogurt.
- Make sure the rolled balls have no cracks.
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