Rasgulla is a traditional dessert of Orissa and Bengal consisting of cheese balls or curd, covered with a sweet syrup. The sweet chenna is mixed with a little semolina and rolled into small balls, which are then boiled in light sweet syrup until the syrup completely impregnates the balls. Among the variants are kheer mohan, rasmalai, where the syrup is replaced with sweet milk, and kamala bhog. We can also put cardamom in the center of the balls to make it fragrant.
Rasgulla is a light and refreshing dessert perfect to eat after a spicy curry filled dinner. One of the early pioneers of wet curd was a seller of sweets called Haradhan Moira, who was probably the first to introduce the sweet in Bengal.
In 1868, Nobin Chandra Das, a sweet seller of Calcutta, simplified the original dish so that it could be prepared in the kitchen of any house. He was largely responsible for incorporating the rasgulla to the local palate. The son of Nobin Chandra Das, K. C. Das, began a large scale production of the sweet, possibly leading to its greater availability.
Eventually, the sweet gained popularity throughout India and the rest of South Asia. Although traditionally sold in clay pots called Handis, rasgullas cans have become very popular today. They were originally marketed by K. C. Das and later by other manufacturers of Indian sweet products. In Nepal, the rasgulla is popular under the name of Rasbari.
Rasgulla has been a traditional offering during festivals along with the Sandesh. The rasgullas are usually served at room temperature or cold. Modern Indian families tend to serve them chilled. A popular variant in Bengal and Orissa is the hot preparation. In northern India, the sweet is flavored with saffron, rosewater and is sometimes garnished with chopped pistachios.
The rasgulla is the precursor of many other Indian delicacies such as rasmalai, raskadam, chamcham, Pantua and malai chop. The rasgulla along with the sandesh and mishti doi forms the trinity of classical Bengali desserts. In the kamala bhog, orange extract is mixed with chhena, and is commonly sold in Bengal.
A similar dish rasmalai has become very popular in India, mainly due to the efforts of confectioners KC Das, Ganguram and Bhim Nag. In this dish, the syrup is replaced with sweetened milk of a finer consistency. The malai chop, an invention of Kolkata, is prepared with chhena, which is sandwiched with a layer of sweetened clotted cream. In the Bengali Pantua, chhena balls are fried in oil before being soaked in syrup.
Preparation Time: 60 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Calories per serving: 195 calories per 100 gms
5 cups milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tsp plain flour
2 cups sugar
4 cups water
Mix lemon juice in half cup of hot water and keep aside. Boil the milk in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, making sure not to burn milk. Add the lemon juice gradually and stir the milk gently. The curd will start separating from the whey, turn off the heat. Drain the whey using a strainer line with cheesecloth or muslin cloth.
Wrap the curd in a muslin cloth, and rinse under cold water, and squeeze well and hang for one hour. Once the curd is drained, place on a dry, clean surface and knead the curd for 4 minutes until the curd almost rolls into smooth soft dough. If the paneer is too crumbly, add a teaspoon of water. Divide the chenna into equals parts and roll each part into a ball, taking care to see that the there are no cracks on the surface. Dust the back of a flat plate lightly with the flour and place the rolled chenna balls on it.
Mix 2 tsp of plain flour with a cup of water to make a flour solution. Keep aside. Combine the sugar and milk with 3 cups of water in a large pan and heat while stirring continuously till the sugar dissolves. Heat over a medium flame to allow the grey layer to float. Do not stir at this point.
After 5 minutes, slowly drizzle a cup of water form the sides of the pan with the help of a ladle. Continue to simmer the syrup over a medium flame for 10 minutes and then gently remove the grey layer using a slotted spoon. Bring the syrup to the boil once again and then slowly drizzle another cup of water from the sides of the pan using a ladle. Increase the flame and boil vigorously for 2 minutes. Keep aside.
Heat the sugar syrup in a deep pan over a high flame and allow it to boil vigorously. Sprinkle half the flour solution in the sugar syrup and then add the chenna balls. After this, keep on sprinkling water on the surface of the sugar syrup. Cook for 15 minutes, continuously sprinkling water to enable the froth to form.
If the rasgulla springs back and retains its shape when pressed, it is cooked. Remove from the fire. Transfer the rasgullas to a bowl along with sugar syrup and water. Cool and chill for 4 hours before serving.