They say the third time’s the charm. And I guess that is true in this case!
This was my third attempt at making rasgullas. The first time I tried was many years ago. I don’t really recall what I did, but I do remember they were too hard. The second time was recently… JF and I tried it together. The “dough” seemed okay. I kneaded it forever, and it was smooth. Tasted it midway through cooking and it had gotten slightly bigger but wasnt quite ready yet. So JF turned up the heat to a high boil. Bad idea. Again they came out too hard. After soaking in syrup, they got a little softer, but not the spongy texture that rasgulla should have! I realized another mistake we made. There may have been too much sugar:water ratio as I read that they can not absorb enough water if this is the case. Another issue is I used vinegar to make the chenna because I didnt have lemon at home. I don’t think I will do that again, and I also think it yielded less chenna that way (or it could have been that milk… I dont know.
Then I saw the event for Bengali sweets, and what a perfect time to give it another go. I read a few (okay lotsof) tips online and felt ready. It seems so easy, how hard can it be?? Learning from old mistakes and having new knowledge I set out again. And guess what? They came out great this time! Im now confident I can make rasgulla, so I can also make my favorite…. ras malai! Next time!
Here is what I did:
- 1liter (4cups) whole fat milk (try not to use “ultrapasteurized”)
- 1/2 or 1 lemon juiced
- 1 tsp all purpose flour or cake flour (I used cake flour because its “lighter”)
- 2 c sugar split in half
- 3c water
- saffron (optional)
Bring milk to a boil, stirring occasionally and add the lemon juice. (Same method as making paneer, which I am planning to make a detailed post about soon.) Start with half the lemon juice and add more if needed. Stir until all the curds have separated and the liquid is clear/yellow and not whitish. If it is whitish add more lemon juice. Strain through a thin cloth. (I got some at the dollar store called flour cloths or something like that. Perfect for this task.) Pull the ends of the cloth up and tie it around the faucet to drain.
After an hour or so, take the chenna (that is what the cheese curds are called) onto the counter and start to knead it. A good tip I got from an Orissa cookbook is to take a small portion and press it away from you with the heel of your hand over and over. Once that portion is done, move onto another. Keep kneading until it becomes completely smooth and you can feel some slight greasiness on your hand. Now spread it and sprinkle the flour over. Knead the flour into the chenna dough. Then make small balls, try to make them perfectly smooth as possible. I got about 15 balls.
In a small pressure cooker, bring 1c sugar and 3 c water to a boil. Once boiling add the small balls. Then put the lid and weight on and pressure cook for 1 whistle or about 10 minutes. When you open the lid, they should have puffed up a lot and be floating on the top. Let them cool a bit, because if you try to move them now you will end up with dents and flat sides.
Next, remove the rasgulla from the water and add another cup of sugar and the cardamom (and saffron if using). Boil it until it becomes thickened and sweet (not too thick.) Add the rasgulla back into the syrup and chill before serving.