SPONGY AND SOFT COTTON LIKE BALLS – THE YUMMY ROSHOGOLLAS

From when I was a teenage girl, I had a keen interest in roshogollas. I am not a Bengali or had Bengali friends, then how do I know about roshogollas? The sweet shops in our hometown had a special section for Bengali sweets. Not all the sweet shops but the famous ones did. I believe most of the Bengali sweets are made from milk. Amongst those sweets, there was a large white ball floating in sugar syrup. It is interesting and intriguing at the same time. I have seen something similar, but a brown ball, yeah,, the Gulab Jamun. I inquired the shopkeeper for the price one day, and I realized I cannot afford to buy one. In our home we don’t buy or order sweets from outside, so I cannot ask my parents to buy it for me. That was a deadlock. I wonder how many times I would have stopped by the sweet shop only to see those roshogollas.

I love the spongy Bengali Rosogolla, though Oriya people also have their own version of it. There is quite a bit of technique and science involved in making those airy sponge balls that swell up in sugar syrup like balls of cotton. There is a certain amount of joy to squeeze some of the sugar syrup out, holding with two fingers and simultaneously checking out the sponginess of each Rosogolla before popping them into the mouth! These days, foodies have come up with hundreds of different flavors of Rosogolla made of fruit and vegetable flavors, and I learned that some of the flavors are mind-blowing. They also lose their quintessential white color when mixed with other flavors. However, nothing can beat the classic Rosogolla. For Bengalis, it is pure happiness.

As I grew up and started working, I could have lunch at the office. Typical south or north Indian thali it was for me until one day I saw roshogolla being served as sweet in one of those thalis. My mouth was salivating at the glance of that bowl of sweet in the display, and I couldn’t wait to keep it in my mouth. Ah, my first roshogolla tasting. It was yummy!!! I had roshogollas many times only in the office. Another time I saw a roshogolla that was too big, of almost 10 cms in diameter during pujo, and I wondered how they would have made it. I came home and started browsing for videos of roshogolla making. You see, that is called craving. I wanted to try making roshogollas. Made them, fed some others with my experiments. The process is a little tricky is what I thought at first, but I am a reasonably good cook with few failures. All you need are only three ingredients to make roshogollas and one flavoring agent. Traditionally cardamom is used as a flavoring, but you may choose to use any other artificial flavoring. I don’t use any flavoring, as I love the flavor of milk itself. 

Ingredients:

Milk – 2L (Cow or buffalo milk. I tried using both, and they were fine)

Vinegar – 2-3 tsp as needed 

Sugar – 4 cups

There are two essential parts of making roshogollas. Making the chenna balls and boiling them in sugar syrup.

Making the chenna balls:

  1. To make the chenna, boil the milk. Once the milk comes to a boil, simmer the flame and add vinegar little by little (Note: you can use lemon juice or citric acid as well) Keep stirring with ladle slowly. The milk starts to curdle. After 5 mins, you can remove the vessel off the flame and strain the liquid using a muslin cloth. 
  2. Add cold water to the milk solids. These milk solids are called chenna. Wash the chenna 3 -4 times under running tap water, tie the muslin cloth, and hang the chenna for 3 hours. After three hours, you would notice that the water in the chenna is drained, but it would still be moist.
  3. Take the chenna in a smooth plate to start kneading. Use the palm of your hand for kneading. Do not mix it like a dough. Remember, you should do this step at least for 10 mins. By the end of 10 mins, the chenna would become smooth to form a like a dough.  (Tip: Some people also add 2 -3 spoons of maida(refined flour) while kneading the chenna, this helps the roshogollas to maintain their shape. This makes life easy if you are doubtful of roshogollas holding their shape. I never used maida, but mine turned out just fine)
  4. Make small rounds of this dough. The balls are going to enlarge more than double their size once you cook them in sugar syrup. So, considering this keep the size appropriate. 

Boiling in sugar syrup:

I normally use a 1:6 ratio of sugar and water. I am not a sweet tooth person, but if you love sweets, you can go up to 1:3. 

  1. Add the sugar and water to a container. Ensure the container has enough space for the balls to swell and move around easily. Bring the sugar and water mixture to a boil and reduce the flame to medium. 
  2. Remove the scum, if any, from the surface of the syrup. (If you are using flavoring, add it now to the syrup)
  3. Gently add the chenna balls to the sugary syrup. Keep it on a high flame for the first 15 min. Then lower the flame to medium for the next 25 min.
  4. Cover with a lid (preferably a glass one so you could see). Note: Lid must be on all the time except for when adding water as in the next step
  5. Once in awhile sprinkle some water and roll the roshogollas with a ladle. Remember to be quick but gentle not to break the balls. Roshogollas don’t like change in temperature, so if you keep the lid off a long time, there is a higher chance for them not to have proper texture. Do this 3 -4 times in the whole course.
  6. After  40 mins on a medium flame, you would notice that the roshogollas double in their size.

The roshogollas are ready!!! After they cool down, you can enjoy them. I bet you cannot stop at one 😀 

I have made them 4-5 times till now and always in 2-liter batches, which produce around 40 roshogollas. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. A couple of Bengalis tasted my roshogollas and found them to be similar to the ones they make back home. I recently tasted the authentic roshogolla made in Bengal, the last December I think, and yes, mine are really very close. I hope you also enjoy making these delicious spongy balls at home. 

 

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MY LOVE FOOD

Food. The ultimate object required for the sustenance of life. It’s like the sun. All things revolve around it, it keeps all the organs healthy and provide energy for their functions and it should be taken hot. I never thought that I would marry a foodie and would cook his favourite foods and have an inclination towards food. Food was never a priority for me, rather I used to eat anything and at anytime. I used to skip breakfast and lunch when I was studying. It affected me adversely. During engineering, when I was hungry I used to either go have panipuri or make Maggie n cold coffee in our kettle. Maggie n cold coffee have had been a constant since. These were my go to foods. But the food that has always been in my heart n mind is the typical odia cuisine that consists of harada dal (toor dal), macha bhaja (fish masala fry) and alu bharta (mashed potatoes odia style).
For Dal:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup toor dal
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
5-6 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon panch foran (five spice blend)
1/2 teaspoon Tamarind paste or 1 dried raw mango
1/2 teaspoon haldi powder
Salt according to taste
2 dried red chillies
1 tablespoon refined oil
Steps:
Pressure cook the toor dal along with some salt, haldi powder, 1 garlic clove cut n pressed and the dreied raw mango (if available) for 10-15 minutes. You can cook it on high for the first 5 minutes and then lower the heat for the rest.
While the dal cooks, cut onion into thin long slices. Heat a pan, put some refined oiland let it heat. Put some panch foran. While it sizzles add the remaining garlic clove which is cut into very small pieces, then add the onion. Let it turn golden then add the red chilles and curry leaves. Once they are fried a little, add the dal to it. Add soem more water if required.
Taste the dal, if u feel like the dal could be a little more tangy, add some tamarind paste. Simmer the dal for 5 minutes. Put off heat. The dal is ready.
For fish fry:
Ingredients:
4-5 pieces of fish
2 onions
4-5 cloves of garlic
1/2 tomato (optional)
1 green chilli (optional)
1 teaspoon haldi
2teaspoons chilli powder (u can use Kashmiri Lal)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon sugar**
** Sugar is added for flavour and colour. We add salt in proportion to sugar so that the fish fry doesn’t tastes sweet.
Masala:
Grind the onion along with the garlic. If you want a little tangy taste add tomato or skip. If you want it little hot then add the chilli. Grind it into a smooth paste.
In a frying pan, put refined oil and let it heat. Add the masala once the oil is hot. Add haldi, chilli powder, salt and sugar n mix. Cook till oil separates from the masala.
Shallow fry the fish in a separate pan, till it’s soft n cooked. Add the fish to the masala. Add little water to it and cook. Cook till the fish is well fried from both sides and the masala sticks to the fish. Similarly, this masala can be used for prawn fry and boiled egg fry (halfed eggs) too.
The potatoes:
3 large potatoes
1 medium onion cut into thin slices
2 dry red chillies
Salt to taste
Method:
Boil the potatoes till they are cooked through.
In a pan, take some refined oil and let it heat. Put the red chillies and fry till it changes the color. Take it out n put it aside. Then add onion to the pan and fry till golden brown. While the onions are being fried, mash the potatoes and the chillies together. Add some salt to it. After the onions are golden brown in color add the potatoes to the pan and mix. Fry for a minute or two and then out off the heat.
The food is ready. Have these with hot rice and some fried papads. I hope you will love these as much as I do. Some foods leave such an impact that no matter where you go and no matter how many different cuisines you try, you will come back to them and be satisfied. Am I that impacting? Does people get attracted to me for my goodness? I think we all can ponder about it.
This above food is my love food. This valentines day I am indeed having it and loving it 😍

THE DIY KINDA FOODIE

I have a weird relationship with food. Throughout childhood and college, I looked at food merely as a means of nutrition, nothing more. I had a handful of favourites that my mother used to cook very well, but by and large, I used to have a ‘meh’ kind of attitude to food, especially to ghar-ka-khana (homemade food).

My journey as a foodie began only when I met my husband, who’s the true foodie among the two of us.  I still remember how the poor thing tried to impress me by taking me to a Greek restaurant for a date, and I ended up eating nothing but boiled rice and stir-fried veges because I hated the food there! He still bears a grudge about it. But, he and my Mother-in-Law are the reason why I learnt how to appreciate good food over just food and cultivated the love for cooking in me.

I don’t consider myself a foodie even now because I have very simple requirements in food and I don’t like to dine out much, but there are times when I have a hankering for certain foods and I’ll go to any lengths to hoard the ingredients required to make that particular dish. For example, I’ve been craving Miso ramen for some time now but I cannot find Miso paste (obviously a very important part of the dish) in any food store in my vicinity. And you can’t make it at home (yes, I’ve googled up ‘DIY miso paste’ too). So I’ve had to place an order online for it, and now I wait for it to arrive. That’s the kind of foodie I am. Oddly enough, as someone who hated ghar-ka-khana, I’ve turned out exactly like my mother. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all!

Yes, I’m the ‘DIY’ type of foodie who would much rather cook/bake by hand rather than sample food at a restaurant or a food fest. For me cooking my favorite meals is like celebrating an event. First, there’s the preparation – going to the grocery store to gather the ingredients or hunting for them at speciality stores.

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Then there’s the cleaning and cooking – washing, chopping, slicing, watching them all come together in a sweet melody in my mixing bowl or kadhai.

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And then there is the celebration itself – serving it to your family and having the satisfaction of knowing that they enjoy it.

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Don’t even get me started on the aroma that fills the house when the food is cooking/baking. I love it when these aromas hang around the house for hours even after the food has been sitting nicely in my tummy! I’m by no means a fabulous cook, but I  do love cooking my favorites.

Some of my friends joke that I should have been born in China or Japan or Thailand because I love anything brothy, soupy with a tonne of ginger and chicken floating in it, and – noodles! In short, I love foods that go ‘sluuuuurp’! Naturally, all noodle based foods are my absolute favourites – Miso ramen, Phad Thai, Yakisoba, Spaghetti with meatballs, simple Chicken Noodle Soup, Indo-Chinese Chow mein, or even Maggi! But the top of the list makes a relatively lesser known congee I first had courtesy of the chef on board my husband’s merchant ship – Arroz Caldo.

It’s a Filipino congee (rice porridge), roughly equivalent to chicken soup and is consumed as breakfast or when you’re feeling unwell. Its relatively simple to make IF you have chicken/vegetable stock at hand, or even stock cubes, and if you’re crazy about soups like me, you will ALWAYS keep chicken stock in your freezer to pop into any soup. Arroz Caldo consists of rice cooked in chicken/vegetable stock along with stir-fried chicken (or you could use pork, fish or shrimps), fried garlic, ginger, hard boiled eggs, topped with a garnish of spring onion, a dash of calamnsi/lemon and fish sauce. For the recipe, please head to Pilipinas Recipe. This recipe includes saffron, which in my opinion, is not necessary. I think it’s only included for the yellow color. Also, I like to make my soups healthy by adding stir-fried vegetables like carrot, mushrooms and bok choy. But you can leave them out if you like. Mind you, this congee is NOT for weight watchers.

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Image source: Pilipinas Recipe

This is the ultimate comfort food for me. This is what I crave when I’m unwell, or when I’ve had a bad day, or even when I just need to cook something good. This, along with the veges I throw in, is like a complete meal in a bowl and I can eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, I HAVE done that on some days aboard that merchant ship, when what the Filipino cook dished out was not to my liking (read squid). Gave me the creeps just thinking about it!

So, now you know what kind of foodie I am! I’m the kind of foodie who loves the process of cooking as much the eating part of it. I’m the kind of foodie who will serve you everything right from bread, cookies, pasta and dessert all made by hand, in my very own kitchen.  I’m the kind of foodie who’s idea of shopping is grocery shopping, and the kind of foodie who loves stuffing her refrigerator with things that she would like to cook.

So who’s coming over for dinner tonight? 😉

 

Featured Image: HomeMaker at Pixabay