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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rasgullas like my mom used to make

This recipe is definitely "the" one Indian recipe that I would like to pass it to my kids. This is what I like about blogging. What gives me the most joy and satisfaction in publishing my recipes is that this is the best way I can pass on the family recipes and tradition of cooking to my kids without all the hassles of writing them down and saving the recipe cards and cook books etc etc.

For those who are new to Indian sweets, first I would like to tell you something about this dish Rasgulla and its main ingredient Paneer before sharing my mom's recipe with you. (if you would like to skip all this information, just scroll down to where it says "Rasgulla like my mom used to make")

Rasgulla are Indian cheese (Paneer, Chhenna) balls cooked in sugar syrup associated with Bengal. Most of us mistakenly believe it to be native dish of West Bengal, Rasgulla was created in Puri, a temple town in Orissa. The dish was later introduced in Calcutta. The rasgulla made its debut in Orissa, where it is also known by its original name, Khirmohan. It has been a traditional Oriya dish for centuries. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the popularity of rasgulla spread to neighboring West Bengal. This was during a period when Bengali cuisine borrowed heavily from Oriya culinary traditions. This mass produced version became known as the sponge rasgulla. Even today, it is the simpler sponge rasgulla that is available in Kolkata, while the rest of Bengal adheres to the original, more elaborate Oriya recipe.

Eventually rasgullas gained popularity all across India and the rest of South Asia. Although traditionally sold inside clay pots called Handis in Orissa and sometimes in Bengal, sponge rasgullas in cans have become popular nowadays. Such canned rasgullas are available throughout India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as in South Asian grocery stores in Britain and North America. In Nepal, the rasgulla is popular under the name Rasbari.

Paneer (Hindi: पनीर panīr, from Persian پنير panir) is a fresh cheese common in South Asian cuisine. It is of Indian origin. In eastern parts of India, it is generally called Chhena. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice or other food acid.

Unlike most cheeses in the world, the making of paneer does not involve rennet as the coagulation agent, thus making it completely lacto-vegetarian and providing a source of protein for vegetarian Hindus.
To prepare paneer, food acid (usually lime/lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid or yogurt) is added to hot milk to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are drained in muslin or cheesecloth and the excess water is pressed out. The resulting paneer is dipped in chilled water for 2–3 hours to give it a good texture and appearance.

From this point, the preparation of paneer diverges based on its use and regional variation.

In most cuisines, the curds are wrapped in cloth and placed under a heavy weight, such as a stone slab, for 2–3 hours, and then cut into cubes for use in curries. Pressing for a shorter time (approximately 20 minutes), results in a softer, fluffier cheese.

While cuisine in the northern states of India features paneer in spicy curry dishes, the use of sana/chhana/chhena in Oriya, Assamese, and Bengali cuisine is mostly restricted to sweets, for which these regions are renowned. The well-known rasgulla features plain chhana beaten by hand and shaped into balls which are soaked in syrup. The sana/chhana/chhena used in such cases is manufactured by a slightly different procedure from Mughlai paneer; it is drained but not pressed, so that some moisture is retained, which makes for a soft, malleable consistency.

Rasgulla like my mom used to make

Every household in India has their own recipe to make this dish. My mom used to make these in pressure cooker. She would immediate cool the pressure cooker by letting all the steam out under running water (pressure cooker closed). I too adapted this from her and was making it in pressure cooker initially, but then just to make it simple and easy to make I now make it in regular deep stainless steel covered pan.

I used to make this a lot for parties and get together, and have shared this recipe with many of my friends. Can't believe that it has been more than 13 years since I made these last for a party, but the recipe and its taste is still fresh in my mind like yesterday.

This recipe is a full proof recipe and makes 25 Rasgullas.

Takes about an hour to make.


To make Paneer:

• 1 gallon of 2% low fat milk (in India we specifically used cow's milk for this, as those who are familiar with India, you may know that buffalo milk is commonly available for everyday use and is very high in fat content (8% fat) While cow's milk is low fat and for this recipe you must use low fat milk.

• 1 cup of cold water

• 1/2 cup of lime juice (from 3-4 large fresh juicy limes)

To make syrup:

• (I usually make the syrup for rasgulla from this recipe in two batches. First batch I take 2 cups of sugar and 6 ½ cup of water and then once the first batch is done, I add 3 ½ cups of water and 1 cup of sugar to the remaining syrup) (you will know what I mean as you follow the recipe method)

• So you will need total of 3 cups of sugar divided in two parts 2 cups and 1 cup

• 10 cups of water divided in two parts 6 ½ and 3 ½ cups

• ½ tea spoon of rose essence.


Please note that Paneer used to make rasgulla is

1. Boil milk in large stainless steel pan to boil, you will have to watch so it does not boil over. (to avoid this you can boil milk in microwave for 25 min in pyrex container, and believe me it does not boil over) Then trans fer it to stainless steel pan on stove and for extra boil.

2. Once the milk is boiling turn the stove off and immediately add one cup of cold water to bring the temp of milk to optimum for curdling.

3. Immediately after this gradually add the lime juice with large spoon stirring it in until the milk curdles.

4. You must see the curd and clear water separate. Once you start seeing this stop adding more lime juice.

5. Transfer the curdled milk in to strainer and discard the watery part.

6. Transfer the curd to a cheese cloth and tie it.

7. Run the tied cheese cloth with curd in it under running cold water for 1 minute.

8. Place the tied cheese cloth in a colander and put some weight on it, let the liquid drain for 8-10 min (time it, because you don't want the cheese or curd to be very dry, it should have some moisture in it)

9. While this draining you can prepare the syrup by adding 6 ½ cup of water and 2 cups of sugar in a deep pan, heat it over high heat until all the sugar is dissolved and bring it to one boil, turn the stove off.

10. Once the time is up, until the cheese cloth and transfer the cheese (paneer in a pan and let it cool for little bit by separating it.

11. At this step my mom would knead the paneer with her hands for 5 min until very smooth, but here is where my food processor helps me out.

12. Transfer the paneer in food processor and use the blade to make it smooth.

13. Transfer it back in bowl or dish, add one teaspoon of butter to your hand and make gold ball size ball, roll them in between your palm to a round, very important to roll in one direction for smooth surface. (makes 25 balls)

14. Now turn the stove on to high with syrup in the pan that you made earlier, drop 13 ball in the syrup, cover the pan and place some heavy weight on it (I use my stainless steel mortal and pastle.

15. Cook the rasgullas for 5 min on high and for 5 min on medium heat (do not open the cover, and don't worry the liquid will not boil over if the pan is deep)

16. Exactly after 10 min remove the weight and lid. You will see the rasgulla balls doubled in size. (you can very well appreciate this in the pictures where I have before and after shots)

17. Gently transfer them with a plastic spoon to serving bowl with some syrup enough to soak the rasgullas.

18. Now place the remaining syrup back on stove and add remaining 3 ½ of water and 1 cup of sugar and again heat the syrup till all the sugar is dissolved.

19. Drop remaining 12 rasgulla balls in the pan with syrup and repeat the steps 14-15 for cooking them.

20. Once these are cooked, transfer them in the serving bowl and pour all the syrup over all the rasgullas.

21. Let them cool to room temp and add rose essence.

22. Chill in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours before serving.

Recipe source: my dearest mom Mrs. Kasturben.
Photographs by Surekha.

Rasgulla description source :

Paneer Description source:

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