My first post is a sweet one. The no-fry,no-ghee Indian dessert loved by most and relatively low-calorie as far as desserts go!
Rasgullas- the soft and squeezy delight from Bengal
Hailing from the eastern state of West Bengal, these light-delights are so loved that one sees rasgulla eating competitions at weddings. I have seen a participant, who eventually was declared the winner, down three dozen at a go!!
Here is a recipe very close to my heart, perfected after more than half a dozen trials till I reached close to perfection. Rasgullas are now almost a weekly affair in my house. Two months back I wouldn’t have dreamt of making them at home!!
You follow the directions below and get perfect rasgullas at home 🙂
Let me warn you-making rasgullas is very addictive! Once hooked to making them, you just aren’t able to stop!
For the Rasgullas you need
1 Litre cow milk, cream removed (I buy the milk an evening prior, boil,cool and refrigerate. Next morning, remove the cream and proceed to make chenna/paneer)
1-2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice/Vinegar / 3-4 Tbsp curd
Tip- Off late I have started using curd for splitting the milk. You don’t need to wash the chhena and it gives perfectly round rasgullas.
To Make Chenna
(Here is a step wise guide to making paneer/chhena at home)
Bring the milk to boil, add 1-2 tbsp lemon juice gradually so that the milk mass and whey separate completely.Add 10-15 ice cubes. Rest for a minute.
If using curd, simply keep adding the curd till the milk splits. Strain and drain the chhena well and proceed to make rasgullas. No need to put the ice cubes and wash the paneer!
Strain in a colander lined with muslin/cheesecloth. Wash thoroughly with fresh water to remove the lemony sourness. Drain the water by squeezing. Knot the muslin cloth and hang it to get rid for any excess whey/liquid.After about 10-15 minutes, remove. The chhena you get will be crumbly like in the picture below.
If it is too wet, it is not drained well and will be impossible to knead. So, make sure chenna is crumbly and slightly dry and yet a little moist.
Rub the chenna with fingers and heels of the palm till the chenna gives out some fat/ ghee/chiknaayee. It takes me about 5- 7 minutes to get there. By now the chenna is like a dough ball that comes together easily, neither too hard nor too soft.
Take pinches off the dough and make small balls, you should get about 15. Remember, they are going to double up on boiling so size them accordingly.
For the Sugar Syrup
For the Light Sugar Syrup to boil the rasgullas
1 cup Sugar
5 cups Water
1/2 tsp fine cardamom (ilaichi) powder
For adding to the Light sugar syrup after boiling the rasgullas
1/4 cup Sugar (I keep the sugar very low. Please increase the sugar to 1/2 or 3/4 cup here to get sweeter rasgullas)
1/2 cup Water
8-10 saffron strands (optional- I haven’t used here)
1-2 Tsp rosewater/gulabjal (optional- I haven’t used here)
While you make the paneer balls, bring to boil 5 cups of water with a cup of sugar (light sugar syrup). Add half a tsp fine cardamom powder. Just as the syrup comes to a rolling boil, add in the rasgulla balls. Boil covered for 12- 15 minutes on medium flame.
I make my rasgullas in two batches so that the rasgullas get enough space in the water to expand and also keep their round shape. If the syrup is less or there are too many gullas in the liquid, they will either become flat or lose their shape.
You may uncover to check every 5 min minutes.
To check if the rasgullas are cooked, drop one in plain drinking water. If it sinks, it is done. If it floats, boil for a couple of minutes and check again. Switch off the gas.
Transfer gently to a big bowl full of clean drinking water. There should be enough water for the paneer balls else they might lose their shape.dd one fourth cup sugar and half a cup of water to the same light sugar syrup in which the rasgullas were boiled and give it a boil so that the sugar melts. Add in the saffron strands (if using) when the syrup becomes warm, do not add while it is hot.Let the sugar syrup cool to room temperature ( takes about 30 minutes)
Remove the rasgullas from the plain water, squeeze gently and drop into the sugar syrup.
Chill for three hours. You may top with some finely slivered pistachios and almonds.
Problems and possible reasons and solutions
Tricky buggers, but delightful once tamed! And super addictive! My friend Suchitra commented yesterday on the numerous successful rasgulla attempt on CAL- my food group on FB. Sadly, some misses too :(. I know how disheartening it is to not get it right. I got into the kitchen last night and made a fresh batch
Just tried one- perfect! No lemony taste, just the right amount of sweetness, no kich kich sound when you bite in.
1. The right milk is the first step, I cannot say that enough!! Fresh cow milk from the dairy works best. I always use that, never had a failed attempt with that. In case you do not have access to that, try with a good brand of cow milk. People have tried with Amul and got good results. A friend in the UK gets perfect results with Tesco green milk
And try, try, try till you figure out what milk works
People living overseas should give them a go with 2 % milk.
For people living in the US– My friend and co-blogger, the brilliant Sonal Gupta has done a fantastic detailed post on rasgullas. The post has exhaustive notes on the right kind of milk and how to go about making rasgullas. Find this very helpful post here on Sonal’s blog simplyvegetarian777.wordpress.com. A big shout of thanks Sonal 🙂
2. I remove the malai/cream and then proceed to make chhena because my trial with full cream milk gave me greasy Rasgullas. But your choice, you can go with full milk.
3. While making chhena, do not boil the milk after adding the lemon juice. That leads to chewy Rasgullas. Better still, use curd to split the milk. No washing required, but drain well. If the paneer is too moist, rasgullas will break. Paneer made with curd gives perfectly round rasgullas 🙂
4. Washing the paneer THOROUGHLY is vital, else you get the lemony taste in Rasgullas. I pour 3-4 glasses of drinking water and wash all of it with my fingers- very nicely!
5. Draining the chhena right is again,very important. Too dry and the Rasgullas go dry, too moist and the Rasgullas scatter in the syrup. This comes with handling the paneer. But a couple of attempts and you get it right.
6. I do not add any binder– sooji,maida,cornflour or arrowroot. Nothing against binders but I wanted to do it without them for the fasting community in my family 😉 Also, I got softer Rasgullas without the sooji/maida- yeah, I did try making them with both.
7. Kneading well is important! The chenna has to be crumbly to start with. Knead it till you get a smooth non-sticky dough like consistency. Knead till it leaves out some ghee/fat/chiknaayee. And stop then.
8. Make smooth, crack free chhena balls.
9. I transfer the chhena balls to water at room temperature to stop the cooking process. This also ensures I don’t get chewy Rasgullas due to over cooking in the residual heat. Keeps their shape well while I cook batch 2 of the Rasgullas in the same syrup.
10. I cook the chenna balls in light (less sweet) sugar syrup to get spongy Rasgullas. Later add more sugar and water to the SAME sugar syrup. Then cool the syrup to room temperature and add the cooked chhena balls which were put into water at room temperature. We are using the same syrup and not making two syrups here.
11. I always leave them in the syrup for 3-5 hours before serving so that they soak in the sweetness. Eating immediately is fine too, only they will be little less sweet.
12. The water sugar ratio of 1:5 gives medium sweet Rasgullas. If you want them sweeter, you can increase the amount of sugar
13. I make them in an open vessel. People use the pressure cooker too. I felt they get a little yellow in the cooker. Also I enjoy watching them double up, hence the open pan with a lid works beautifully! 😉
14. Sometimes Rasgullas shrink after they boil and double. Usually happens because of the wrong milk in my experience. They do shrink a wee little bit once taken of the heat, but not remarkably so.
15. If you get flat or shapeless rasgullas, it is because they aren’t getting enough space to expand. Use a deep and wide vessel. I make the rasgullas in two batches so that they have enough space and also because it gets done in less amount of sugar syrup- no wastage. If you want to make them at one go- you may double the amount of sugar syrup.
16. I keep the sugar low in the rasgullas. If you like them sweeter, please add more to the syrup after having boiled the rasgullas once. If you feel they are less sweet even after the second soak for three hours- remove the rasgullas, add sugar to the syrup, give it a boil, cool and soak the rasgullas again for a couple of hours.
17. And, above all- pray! I always do when I make them 😀