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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HONEY! I LOVE YOU…

Honey Glazed Walnuts ?? Yes, yes. Heard you. They are delicious and healthy. But so are honey glazed chicken, honey glazed carrots, sriracha and honey glazed broccoli. Browsing these recipes is like food porn, watching the ingredients bring the dish to life while salivating almost makes me full sometimes. If one has to ask me what is that one versatile ingredient that you would want to experiment with while cooking, my answer without a doubt would be honey. It can be added to any vegetable or meat to bring that twist. Have you tried honey with a bitter gourd? If you love bitter gourd, you should try this. 

My morning routine starts with a glass of warm water with honey and lemon.

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(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

It gives the required kick to the morning. Lemon is refreshing, and the honey helps boost energy.  For many years of my life, my morning beverage was coffee, but once I replaced it with lemon and honey water, I saw dramatic improvements in my health.

Honey acquires its characteristic taste depending on where the bees collect the nectar from. If the honeycomb is an area where Neem plants are more, one could easily taste the bitterness in the honey. 

Honey improves our immunity, which helps us fight a lot of diseases. Are you anemic? Have a tablespoon of honey a day, and you would see improvement in your hemoglobin levels. Honey also is an excellent remedy for cough. Honey was considered a medicine in ancient times, and in India, it is still part of many home remedies. A mixture of honey and ginger juice helps heal sour throat. Honey has antioxidants that can prevent cancer, heart diseases, and in some cases, can heal wounds. 

I was watching a food show a couple of days ago where they said that honey is not recommended for infants less than a year old. I was curious to know if this is true because, in our households, we do give honey to newborn babies. After some reading on different websites, and this is what they say, “Honey can contain spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal illness.” So, let your kid be of a year old before you start giving honey to them. 

little kid looking at homemade pancakes with berries and honey on table
(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Do you know how to check if the honey you are using is authentic and not adulterated with sugar? Take a bowl, add a tablespoon of honey into the bowl. Add a quarter cup of water to the bowl and gently swirl the bowl. After a few rounds of water on the honey, the honey would look something like a honeycomb. If the honeycomb shape is not formed, you can be sure that the honey is not pure. This amazed me when I tried it. Honey is so versatile, can get along with any food item, helps us stay healthy and all of this while maintaining its own authenticity. This is so important for us humans to understand from honey, honey bees, honeycomb or I must say, the honey-making process all in all teach us to be selfless, have a meaning for life, help others and be kind without losing our own self-identity. 

The glob of precious honey that I had poured into my mouth at Ace’s was the life’s work of hundreds of bees, a unique floral ode collected from thousands of blossoms in a poetic foraging ritual – Holley Bishop

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 !!

STAY HEALTHY WITH FRUITS IN DIET

fruits-82524_1280Fresh & dry fruits are the natural staple food of man. They contain substantial quantities of essential nutrients in rational proportion. They are excellent sources of minerals, vitamins & enzymes. Fruits are easily digested and produce a cleansing effect on the blood and the digestive tract. Fruits can successfully treat ailments caused by the intake of unnatural foods. Fresh and dry fruits are thus not only good foods but also good medicines.

Natural Benefits of Fruits:

  1. Fruits hydrate the body to a great extent.
  2. Fruits act as diuretics and contribute to a salt free diet.
  3. Fruits alkalize the body fluids and keep the body free from toxic wastes.
  4. They speed up the recovery process in times of sickness by giving quick energy and minerals.
  5. The fibres of fruits give laxative effect and hence prevent and cure constipation when taken in regularly.
  6. Vitamins, minerals, enzymes and trace elements of fruits are extremely beneficial in normalizing all body processes. Hence, they help in healing and cell regeneration.
  7. Fruits can delay aging.

Curative effects of fruits:

  1. Regular use of fruits sharpens memory, prevents nervous exhaustion, mental tension, hysteria and insomnia.
  2. Fruits help in blood building and nerve strengthening. They are also good for liver ailments, indigestion, rheumatism etc.
  3. Fruits can be a positive remedy for the weakness of the brain.
  4. They are also beneficial in fevers, catarrh, nasal and bronchial ailments.

A generous intake of fruits in the diet will enable a person to lead healthy life. Fruits prevent all diseases and help a person to be smart, energetic and active all through life.

TIPS:

  1. Take only one fruit at a time.
  2. It is always better to take fruits with milk than with meals.
  3. Diabetic & obese persons must avoid all sweet fruits.

— Dr. P. Sameera