Fish-rice, sweets and Durga Puja define Bengalis. No matter in which part of the world they are, they cannot do without these. Rasgulla has been the iconic Bengali sweet. Puja and Rasgulla go hand in hand. With the Puja round the corner, Sarika talks about the joys of Bengalis and Rasgulla. How amazing that something so simple could win hearts of many. Here’s the recipe, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Geography paltalae Bangali paltai na [Change of geography (read place) does not change Bengalis]. How true!
Every community around the globe has some additives, so do us Bengalis.
We Bengalis never change, no matter where we live, America or Asansol, Delhi or Dublin, we need our mach-bhat, misti r Durga Pujo (fish-rice, sweets and Durga Puja).
Durga Puja is our lifeline. We can sacrifice anything for it. All Bongs across the world feel the tug in autumn to go back to their hometowns. It was 2001, during my university days, Pune was my hive that time. During those days in Pune, autumn breaks were not common, so we usually returned home during Christmas vacation and summer vacations. Once I met a young mechanical engineering student in Azad Hind Express, as a traveler like me, heading to his hometown, Kolkata. After few rounds of chit-chat, he mentioned very sadly, that if his company would offer him half of his present salary, and shift him to Kolkata he would happily accept the offer, as there was no Puja vacation in Pune.
I have always been tagged as impure Bengali, since I was in college, possibly because I shun fish, meat and sweets. But now I cook everything for my family so I am a partial Bong now.
My 10-year- old son is not obsessed about Durga Pujo, the way his parents are, probably because he is a global trotter and never got a chance to stay in one country for a long period to feel that pujo essence. However, his typical Bong dad keeps telling him how our houses turns into mad house during pujo with blazing lights, new clothes, blocked street pandals, house tremble with the sounds of dhak (war-drum) beats and yummiest food. Hope one day he will enjoy it all!
As we are only two weeks away from pujo, am sharing the recipe for most common sweet of Bengal. Yes, it is Rasgulla!
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 15 to 18 minutes
1 litre of full fat milk
2-3 tbsp of fresh lime juice or vinegar
1 cup of sugar
3 cups of water
1/2 tsp rose water
Few saffron strands for garnish
For making chenna/paneer (cottage cheese)
1. Bring the milk to a boil, pour lemon dilute with 2tsp water juice and mix.
2. Let the milk curdle. Switch off the stove and leave it for few minutes.
3. Add ice cubes to the curdled milk and leave it aside for two to three minutes
4. Clean and collect the cheese in a cheese cloth or muslin cloth.
5. Clean the cheese under running water to avoid the smell of lemon juice.
6. Tie the cloth and hang it for 45 mins and drain excess water.
Making Rasgullla balls
1. Add sugar and water to a wide pan and bring it to a boil.
2. Knead the cheese properly to make a smooth dough.
3. Take small portions and roll to tiny balls, once it is ready, it turns into big balls.
4. Now, to the boiling sugar syrup, add rose water.
5. Let the sugar syrup boil, add the balls, one after the other, gently.
6. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 10 to 12 mins on a medium high flame. Gently stir to ensure it is cooking as well as puffing. It will double in size when done.
7. Allow rasgulla to rest and cool completely.
8. Garnish with saffron and rose petals.
Note: Kneading the chenna into a smooth dough is very important to get perfect rasgullas.
Pix by author.