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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COOKING IS MY LEGACY

I was always a foodie, even now and will be forever.

So food was not something I stayed away from. I loved being in the kitchen, be it for cooking or for eating. I always enjoyed making things, even if it might not be perfect. I enjoyed watching my mom cook. My love for cooking comes from the way my mom cooked and served everyone, I believe.  I have always seen her making everything we all loved eating and even if she never gets a bite to eat, she served everyone, enough to fill their tummies and even their heart.

The ease with which she met our demands, was tremendous, in spite of being a working mom. Even when I was mocked for being fat, my mom was never reluctant to cook and make me eat. Every time any guest came to our house, our dining table was filled with dishes. She was never tired of trying new styles, which is why I and my brother were extreme foodies.

When I was a kid, I used to dream about food always. One of the ads which were my favorite was one of those oil advertisements.

Being foodies is not a crime. 😛

I would say, that was the only reason, I never enjoyed my hostel food as such.

In the first half of my life, I would say I spent eating rather than cooking. The rest a few years went into helping my mom and even making dosa for my brother, who was too small to cook. I remember even making, sandwiches, sausages, etc. for everyone when I was in my 6th or 7nth standard. Whenever my mom was unwell, I tried my best to cook. I always felt it was magical to make all those continuous circles on dosa, making it look so adorable.

Image result for making dosa

The early morning black tea was something, I enjoyed making. The wonderful aroma of it, kick starts my day.

Ever since I got married (when I was 20+), I began all my experiments with cooking. With multiple failures, I enjoyed cooking on my own, serving my guests, my colleagues and even my family who comes to visit us. Their encouraging words were boosting my skills too.

My greatest critic is my husband though. He ensured I was informed well, that I cooked disastrous and when nice, he kept silent, but I could observe it from the way he had food.

Again being mom, changes all your tastes, rather than eating, you prefer feeding everyone. Many even thought that me being a foodie, would never share anything from my plate but little did they realize that now after being mom, I have changed.

I would try cooking, baking, grilling and much more just for my kids. As a mom, I would want to feed them the very healthy food. So I included all kinds of foods on my daily menu. Cutlets, soups, noodles, all kinds of parathas, paneer (being my daughter’s favorite) and much more.

Cooking is much more fun when you just don’t all the ingredients but a pinch of love to it. And I realized you need not be a good cook always, but someone who loves to share a piece of what they have always. The added flavor of my cooking -is love, which made everyone happy and filled.

And I still continue my legacy, that I  carry from my mom. And she is still my mentor who is teaching me much more.

The joy of cooking comes from the joy expressed while serving it with the one who is in need of food. — SoulRecitals

TRAITS OF A RELIGIOUS FOODIE

Google defines a foodie as  “foodie is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages.” However in my dictionary, a foodie is a person who need not have a refined taste but is madly and blindly in love with food and can be even obsessed with its thoughts such as he may not only eat but would also work, talk and sleep with food! With this thought in my mind, let me compile here a hilarious fact file of all great foodies based on my personal observations and experiences. So here it goes:-

1. Foodies are more interested in satisfying their taste buds’ desires than their stomachs’ actual need.

2. Foodies have an awesome diet plan. Respecting the word ‘healthy diet’, they will choose nutritious foods, however the additional layers and flavors added to such healthy foods will be so fatty that the whole diet becomes a mock! Some of the foodies even wake up feeling motivated about how they would get their bodies in shape by controlling their tongues but you ask them by the end of the day when they end up on their usual diet, their reply would be:- “Oh, looks really don’t matter!’’ or they would say ,“There is only one life, so we need to live extravagantly!’’Believe me there is actually no guilt..lol.

3. Foodies might indulge in prudent budgeting while buying necessities but when it comes to delicious food that seems tempting, there would be no second thought irrespective of whatever be the price!

4. For all the youngsters like me, if we are ever given the option of choosing between gorging on our favorite dish or going on a date with our crushes ; guess what will we choose!?Of course food is more important, chuck off the date!

5. Foodies  are never fussy about food. They enjoy all kinds and varieties of cuisines and dishes. Also they love experimenting new tastes when it comes to food!

6. Yummy food makes foodies more happy than expensive gifts!

7. Foodies serve their guests well. If they like some particular dish, they would desperately want all their loved ones to taste it and eventually like it too!

8. If foodies are ever asked about their favorite dishes or cuisines, they would land in deep speculation  to pick one out of the hundreds.

9. To check if one is actually a foodie or not, just let the guests be out or don’t  give them the regular glances, one would observe that foodies would be the first one to attack the food and devour them!

10. No matter how full one is, the foodie will always have an extra space in the stomach to taste the unexplored!

11. This one is a warning in disguise that is never ask a foodie to just taste a dish, he may end up licking up the whole plate!

12. This is a comical truth that some of the foodies keep aside their brains while devouring their favorite dishes. Rather they ignore their inner voice giving themselves excuses. For example , they know street food may not always be hygienic or healthy yet they love to overeat justifying themselves that it is just once in a while !

Thus now you can probably guess that the way to a foodie’s heart goes via delicious food! So now my I leave it to my dear readers to decide the extent to which they agree with my funny facts mentioned above!

I Hope you all enjoyed reading the fact file.

DO NOT PLAY WITH YOUR OWN HEALTH …

Every household of India will have a pack of noodles at home, mostly Maggi, maggi is like another name of noodles. In India it is very difficult to find ready made food, one has to go to restaurant to get good quality food, though there are road side vendors, we cannot rely on their cleanliness.

Nestle – the most known company in food and beverages with over 2000 brands. Maggi noodles is owned by Nestle India. I am not sure if people outside India are aware of what happened with Maggi in India, Food and Drug administration has found adulteration in the batches manufactured in some of their facilities, and imposed a ban on the sales of their noodles. Many noodle lovers were very disappointed with this decision, some would have even shed some tears. I mean, people went crazy posting all over social networking sites expressing how much they miss eating Maggi.

While on one side when the FDA and government are saying that the ingredients( lead and MSG) used are going to harm our health, very few people understood the intent. I wondered if we even care about our health and well-being ? If we do, to what extent ?

Adulteration of food is addition of substances which are not intended to be used or can be harmful. This addition of unauthorized additives or chemicals is done for many reasons, like preservation, enhancing taste, to reduce cost but not sacrifice the taste. Sadly, in India , this adulteration is not limited to a particular category of food items, it’s everywhere.

Food is declared adulterated if:

  • A substance is added/removed which depreciates it
  • Cheaper substances are substituted wholly or in part.
  • Excessive usage of artificial colors to improve the apperance
  • Degraded quality which can raise concerns for health.

Adulterated food is dangerous because it may be toxic and can affect health and it could deprive nutrients essential for proper growth and development.

Milk – the most basic need from infants to adults. It is adulterated to an extent that we cannot even imagine. Detergents, starch, harmful chemicals, salts, urea, sugars – all of these are used for adulterating milk. Synthetic milk is it’s name, it can be very harmful when consumed over many days.

Cumin seeds, turmeric, chilli powder, green chillies, green peas, honey, sugar, coconut oil, butter, vanaspati, mustard oil, pulses, millets, rice, paneer, khoya, curd, yogurt, I can keep giving more items that are adulterated. Is there any limit ? I do not see any.

What it means to us ? We have to be careful to a level of multi-fold, educate ourselves on what ingredients are good for health, harmful for us, inculcate the habit of reading the ingredients before making a purchase. As much as possible, get the local produce from farmers for dals, vegetables etc. They are tasty and healthy too ! The internet is full of studies and journals on how we can do some tests at home to check for adulteration, let’s learn. It is we who have to be careful about our health, as the saying goes health is wealth , we would feel helpless without it. Health is precious and so are we !!

TEMPTATION LEANS ON THE DOORBELL

When you were a kid remember when mom used to make a special dish and tell you not to touch it before the guests arrived. But you couldn’t stop yourself from taking a peek or a teeny weeny bite. Or the other day when you were invited to your friend’s birthday party and they were taking forever to cut the cake. You couldn’t wait any longer and you just had to poke your little finger into the side of the cake and lick it.

Well is this the story of your childhood? No? Ok I admit it’s my story. I still can’t resist the temptation of tasty food. Even though my weighting scale is screaming at me. I should have gone on a diet 10 kilos ago. I still can’t resist the temptation of a delicious chocolate cake or any yummy desert for that matter. I have friends who do not touch any sweet dish. I mean not even a small innocent looking scoop of vanilla ice-cream. And their reward is a gorgeous figure to flaunt and fitting into size S dresses. And here try as I might I cannot come down from XL.

To mitigate my guilt about my temptation I found this perfect quote on the internet. ‘’About the only time losing is more fun than winning is when you’re fighting against temptation – in my case temptation of delicious food.’’ And I guess as long as I am able to control my portions I will survive.

But jokes apart… Think! Is not being able to resist temptation really good?

Who ever said this was a very wise person. Really! When opportunity knocks at the door we have to be alert and grab it or else it goes away to knock at other doors. But with temptation it’s exactly the opposite. Forget staying alert and grabbing it; even if you are trying hard to ignore it. Temptation entices you, it dances in front of your eyes and your resolve slowly dissolves, you become weak-kneed and finally you succumb to it.

So how do we avoid temptation? No it doesn’t allow you to avoid it, it keeps coming back in your path. So the right word is ‘resisting’ temptation. You need to fight it off. And the biggest weapon you have for this fight is ‘will power’. And also a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong.

Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing at all or by having everything happen all at once.

– Anonymous

Like with the temptation to stray off the path of righteousness. In relationships the worse possible temptation to submit to is to cheat on your spouse. Whatever the reasons be we can never justify breaking someone’s heart. The counterfeit pleasure of an affair can never overcome the ways infidelity can destroy a life, marriage and family.

Or let’s talk about the temptation to steal. It’s very easy to surrender to this temptation. When material wealth is our benchmark for success and we don’t have what the others have. In our mind we cook up reasons to justify our taking it away forcibly.
Our false sense of entitlement allows us to believe that we can steal what we could not earn.

But, Remember the devil itself might be testing you. Don’t take the easy way out. Don’t harm / hurt anyone or do anything illegal however tempting it might be. There may be many different paths open in front of you. ‘The Forbidden’ path is always more tempting. It is up to you to decide which is the right path…

YUMMY TEMPTATIONS AND MY MONKEY!

It was 6 pm and she was standing in a queue, waiting for her turn to order sprouts salad. Cafeteria was as usual crowded at this hour and she was in a hurry to get home since it was Friday evening and she was very much looking forward to the weekend. Just one more person ahead of her and she saw another person walk away with yummy red pasta topped with cheese. “Oh god, I wish I could eat this! Just 6 more kgs to go – once I am my ideal weight, I will eat it”. But her mind kept going back to that beautifully decorated dish of red pasta with a portion of garlic bread.

Her turn came to place order and determined to have that sprouts salad she said “How much is the red pasta for?” The waiter replied something that did not really matter to her. “Ok, I will have a red pasta with topped cheese – TO GO please”.

As soon as she turned her face away, she said almost aloud “What the hell is wrong with me?” Then there was an inner voice telling her “It’s ok, it is Friday anyways. I can restart my dieting on Monday again. Monday is always a good day to start such things. And I had a tough week with those crazy deadlines, I do deserve a treat. Or maybe I should make it a deal to have something good every Friday evening.”

Well, this is my story. I struggle with my cravings for fried junk food. I have found myself in this situation innumerable times. No matter how determined I am to have something healthy – I change my mind as soon as my eyes fall upon that yummy cheesy burger, doughnut, maggi, kurkure or potato chips.

I have read books on controlling your diet. In the past, I have even hired a dietician. But what really happened was that I ended up paying her every month only to avoid talking to her. She would ask me for updates on my diet chart and I really cannot put pasta in there – she will kill me. And I cannot lie to her, right? I am paying her for this and then if I lie to her – what’s the point? So, the only way was to find some excuse to not update the diet chart and to not take her calls.

I am about 13 kgs overweight as per my BMI and it bothers me. I don’t mind working out in gym in fact working out is the best stress buster for me, but all my sweating out in gym goes down the drain because of my eating habits. Almost every morning I go on a diet and by evening I am off it and cycle repeats it over and over again. It just leaves me frustrated and unhappy. “You just need determination to do this” people say. Yeah, well – it isn’t simple to have this demon named determination.

Recently, I was reading a book and that had nothing at all to do with diet or food – but somehow it inspired me a lot because it said “It is all in the brain. Your mind has power to make this world change”. Well, how difficult can it be to control your mind? Mind if let loose is like a monkey that keeps jumping around aimlessly. It doesn’t stay still. It keeps thinking and it keeps getting attracted to all the temptations around. It takes immense practice and patience to control this monkey. Even a bit of carelessness – this monkey will jump onto the next temptation it sees around and will get stuck to it.

My practice is on and my patience has been tested a million times. But am I here to give up on my monkey? No, not definitely.

The same books and same dietician is helping me now. The knowledge is the same and it is coming from the same sources. Balanced diets, eat regularly every 2-3 hours, keep food with you all the time, do not step into cafeteria at 6 pm – these some of the best practices that I am now following to keep my cravings in control.

I learnt an important lesson in life. It is not just about food, it could be anything – alcohol, drugs, sex, smoking, shopping, gambling etc. It doesn’t matter what you are struggling with is, knowledge is all there in the world, people have written books and have multiple research on resisting temptations. There are a plenty of rehabs for people who are addicts. But none of this will work unless you learn to tame this monkey in your head. YOU and only YOU can have control over YOUR monkey.