The sweet scent in the air, that joyful feeling and happier faces. Also lots of deliciousness to indulge on. Finally festive season is here! Being a Bengali, Durga Puja is extremely close to my heart. Rhythmic beats of dhaks paired with sounds of the conch shells. Everybody dressed gorgeously in bright colors, the feeling is priceless. My absolute favorite time of the year and I have Nolen Gur Rasgulla (Cheese Balls cooked in Jaggery Syrup) for you. A treat you must try!
Bengalis are synonyms to Rasgullas or Roshogolla as we like to call it!
It was funny how as a kid whenever someone found out that I am a Bengali, the first thing they would say is ‘oh rasgulla’. My response always used to be ‘not my favorite sweet’. Now, I make this treat at home. You can say my taste buds matured with age. Rasgullas are fresh soft cheese balls that are cooked in sugar syrup to a spongy syrupy cheese balls. Although it’s a very simple treat, it requires some practice and once you nail that, making rasgulla at home will no longer intimidate you.
These rasgullas are elevated with the rich aroma of jaggery. Date palm jaggery is a specialty in Bengali desserts and my absolute favorite kind of jaggery too. Beside the perfumy flavor, I just adore the gorgeous earthy shade it brings to any treat. I am yet to master the technique of preparing rasgullas but am glad that they turned out quite luscious and brought smile to our faces.
- 1½ litre whole milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups grated jaggery
- Layer muslin/cheesecloth in a colander and keep it aside to be used later.
- In a deep saucepan, pour the whole milk and bring it to a boil. Once done, switch off the heat and pour 1 cup water into the pan. It will cool down the milk to some extent. It’s important to cool down the milk a little bit before pouring lemon juice or else, the cheese will not turn soft. Pour the lemon juice into the milk and stir. The will cause the milk to curdle.
- Allow the milk to cool for a couple of minutes and then, strain the milk through the cheesecloth.
- Rinse the cheese under running water, as the sour taste needs to go away. This also ensures that the rasgulla turns out soft.
- Tie the ends of the cheesecloth and squeeze off all the excess water. Hang it for just 30 minutes.
- After that, take the cheese out of the cloth in a clean plate and start kneading. It would take about 10 minutes of kneading to turn it into soft cheese dough. You will realize that your hand also feels oily, which is a good sign.
- Once the dough is ready, make tiny dumplings from the dough. As you roll the dumplings to a perfect circular shape, try to avoid cracks in the dumpling. Keep in mind that these balls do grow in size as they cook in the syrup.
- Next, make the jaggery syrup by mixing water with jaggery and bring it to a boil. The syrup should be runny.
- Once the syrup is ready, drop the cheese balls into it and do not over crowd as the cheese balls needs space to grow in size. Cover the pan with a tight lid and let it cook for about 15 minutes at medium heat. In the mean time, keep checking the consistency of the syrup. If it gets too thick, add some water and continue cooking the rasgullas by turning it around every few minutes. Once they are almost double in size, they’re ready.
- Switch off the heat, and leave the rasgulla in the syrup. Once it's cooled serve with the syrup.
While kneading the cheeseballs, make sure to knead until your hand feels oily. Over kneading will make the rasgullas hard and not spongy. While shaping the cheese balls avoid cracks as much possible. It's important to make sure that the syrup doesn't turn too thick as you cook the cheeseballs. And if does, then add water.