Beginners guide to Preparing Rajbhog quickly

Cooking can be stress buster for bachelors. More so if you don’t cook so well but can lay your hands on a book with an easy but mouthwatering recipe. Well, I had Satarupa Banerjee’s The Book of Indian Sweets (affiliate link) for help.

Missed my swimming lesson yesterday and so was desperate to put the evening to good use. I received the book yesterday from Kwench, and not having cooked for a while I decided to start with what a Bong outside Bengal craves for – The Oh-so-Awesome Rosogolla.

The Giant Rasgulla

Satarupa’s book on Indian sweets starts off with the unputdownable (yeah Telegraph, I borrowed your subtitle, but I hope you would take it as flattery) Rasogolla. Since the book looked pretty handy, I thought of starting off sequentially. But then it would have been too Bong for comfort. The next one was Rajbhog and I chose it immediately. Satarupa calls it The Giant Rasogulla, with a little different texture. Followed instructions to the T and ended up with this:

Rajbhog

Rajbhog

You can search the internet for several videos, recipes and prep styles for Rajbhog so would include just the basic style (without the jazz).

What you need (Ingredients of Rajbhog)

Note: I prepared 12 giant balls (no pun intended :P) with these. So, if you want more/less, extrapolate the figures accordingly.

  • 250 gm Paneer (softer the better. If you find Chhana, or Chhena, all the better)
  • 60 gm Khowa (not many stores would give you this amount though)
  • 1 tsp flour (maida), 1tsp semolina (suji), 1 cardamom (you just need the Elach, or Elaichi, seeds)
  • 1 kg sugar (yes, you need that much Chini for the sugar syrup)
  • 750 ml water (hopefully, you have one of those 1 litre mineral water bottles at your house, it would help in the measurement)
  • Edible Yellow color (or, 1 gm saffron, or Kesar, if you have some extra dough. Mind you, not many stores would give you 1gm of this costly stuff, so be prepared to be set back by 150 odd rupees. Else, edible colors work just well. What do you think they give you in the Sweets shops anyways?)
  • 1tsp rose water (if you already have all the other stuff at home, but not this one, don’t worry too much about it)

How to make Rajbhog (preparation steps of Rajbhog)

  • Ensure that the Paneer doesn’t have too much water (yeah I know that sounds a little moronic), and knead the Paneer with your palm well until it becomes smooth.
  • Then mix 1tsp (maida) and 1tsp semolina (suji) with the kneaded Paneer and knead again
  • Make 12 smooth balls, and ensure that there isn’t any crack
    • Tip 1 (For Beginners): at the start you may not know the optimum size of each ball, so don’t worry. Once you start making a few Golas, you would get a hang of how much Paneer to put in each Gola.
    • Tip 2 (for all) : if you want the Rajbhogs to look yellow, while kneading the Paneer, mix some edible yellow color with it
Slightly kneaded paneer

Slightly kneaded paneer

Smoothly kneaded Paneer

Smoothly kneaded Paneer

Paneer balls

Paneer balls

Now, that we have Paneer Golas, we need to make some Khowa/Cardamom balls and put it inside the Paneer Golas. Lets get started.

  • Mix Khowa and Cardamom (Elaichi) seeds and divide into 12 portions (I made 12 balls).
  • Stuff one portion of the Khowa/Cardamom mix into each Paneer Gola, and roll the balls into your palm so that the Paneer covers all the Khowa
    • Tip 3 (For Beginners): if you don’t, while boiling the Golas in sugar syrup, the Khowa would drain out. It happened to 2 of my Golas.
The Khowa balls

The Khowa balls

Preparing sugar syrup

Preparing sugar syrup

Okay, now we need to prepare sugar syrup and then boil the Golas in it. Lets do it.

  • In 750 ml water, put ½ kg sugar and boil it. When the sugar seems dissolved, pour another ½ kg sugar and continue with the heat. A while later (say 5-7 minutes), you have Sugar syrup with you.
  • Put your Golas one by one into the heated sugar syrup and continue with the boil. You’ll see that the Golas increase in size (I mean they will get puffed).
  • Continue for another 7-8 minutes and you might see some crack appearing on the Rajbhog’s surface. Remove them from fire.
  • Add (rather sprinkle) 1tsp rose water
  • You’ll have let the Golas soak in sugar syrup for a few hours (say 3-4 hours) before you can have them.

Tada, your Rajbhog is ready.

Expert Eater Challenge

Try having one Rajbhog in one mouthful J. If you can, send us a photo, we’ll publish it here.

Eating Rasogolla

Eating Rasogolla

Chanchra

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Bengali cuisine has evolved since its birth. There were many invasions from foreigners like the Muslims, the British. Different styles and recipes got incorporated into the Bengali culinary chart. But, there are still some that have not evolved much and Chanchra (or Chancharika, that’s what the other name for this dish is as mentioned in “Bangalir Khawadawa” by Shankar) being listed at the top of this list. I can tell this because I have seen my grand mother cook the same way my mom or even I cook the dish. My granny used to say that she learnt this recipe from her mother, so you see there has been almost four generations where chanchra has remained what it was, and I don’t think it’s going to change any soon.

Chechra

So, what is chanchra? When I thought of writing about this recipe, I was thinking how to spell it in English. Anyways I decided on this spelling. Chanchra (or may be Chenchra). This authentic Bengali recipe can be very lucidly described as a curry made of one or different types of herbs put together along with vegetables (mainly potatoes and pumpkin) and fish head. I am not sure how this curry came into existence, but it was most probably due to the habit of Bengalis not to leave out any part of anything that is edible. Mostly people don’t prefer to have a full fish head during meal, so the fish head is fried and broken into smaller pieces and mixed with other vegetables to prepare succulent and yummy preparation to serve mainly during lunch time. This typical Bengali recipe is  an all time favorite among Bengalis and those individuals who like having Bengali food.

Chanchra is an inevitable side dish for any feast. If you visit a marriage ceremony at lunch (Bengali marriages are held at evening, the day time is only for people close to the family), you just can’t get away without tasting this recipe. Chanchra with warm rice is a delicacy. It is prepared mainly with climbing spinach or pui saag in Bengali, along with potatoes, aubergine and pumpkin to increase the volume of the prepared item. There is a vegetarian version of this which though not widely cooked but exists. Different types of lentils are used along with the vegetables and herb (the detailed recipe will post later). The use of the climbing spinach (also called Malabar spinach or Malabar nightshade) and the fish head gives the distinct smell and taste of this particular dish. Though this dish is a little tricky to prepare, and doesn’t look much appealing too, but the taste of it is what counts.

Other names of this herb is Pui shakh or Puin shaak in Bengali, Poi saag in Hindi, Pasalai keerai in Tamil, Bachhala kura in Telugu, Balasale soppu in Kannada.

Preparation time: 20mins

Cooking time: 30mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Malabar spinach (Pui shakh): 2 feet long stem with leaves
  • Pumpkin (Kumro): 100gms, cut into medium size dices
  • Potato (Alu): 2, cut into medium size dices
  • Fish head (Macher Matha): 1
  • Panch Phoron: 1 teaspoon
  • Onion (Peyaj): 1 medium size, cut thinly
  • Garlic paste (Rasun bata): 1 teaspoon
  • Chili powder (Sukhno Lankar guro): 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds (Jeera): 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard Oil (Sarser tel): 6 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

  • Chop off the leaves from the Malabar spinach stem, chop the leaves into halves, and cut the stems into 2 inch long sizes and slit longitudinally
  • Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok and fry the fish head, smash it into pieces, keep aside
  • Heat the rest of the oil and pour in the panch phoron and onions, sauté till the onions become light brown.
  • Add the vegetables and garlic paste, chili powder and cumin, toss for 5 mins
  • Add half-cup of water and cook until the vegetables are half cooked
  • Put in the leaves and stems of the Malabar spinach and cook till the leaves are soft
  • Add the fried fish head and cook for 5 more mins, and take out of flame

Chechra (1)

Hot Tips – Keep the leaves and stems under running water for sometimes, to get rid of any dust particles and fertilizers sprayed to the plants.

Further Readings – Malabar Spinach, Pui with poppy

Sending this recipe to Indrani of Appyayan for hosting the first event on her blog, Spotlight: Fish. Along with this I am also sending Bhapa Chingri and Macher Dimer Vada to the same event.

Fish-logo

Also sending this recipe to A Food Lover’s Journey hosting this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, originally created by Kalyn and it is now in the care of Haalo.

WHB3

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Peyaji – Bengali Onion Pakora

Serves: 4

Onion pakora, or peyaji, or onion pakoda, onion bhaji or whatever you may call it the taste remains the same. Those evenings, everybody coming back from office, sitting in the drawing room , and Ma gets a big bowl full of peyaji. O, I just miss those days. But nothing doing, days pass by. It had been mom before and now it’s me to get into the kitchen. So lots of talk, lets now get back to cooking .To start with:

Ingredients for Peyaji (Onion Pakora)

  • Onions (peyaj): 4 big, chopped properly
  • Mustard oil (sarser tel): 50ml
  • Green chilli(kacha lanka) : 4 , chopped
  • Cornflour: 2tsp
  • Salt to taste.

The Preparation

Just add the chopped onions, green chilli , salt , corn flour and 1 tsp of mustard oil. Mix them all and keep aside for 5/10mins so the onions soften.

Cooking

Add mustard oil in a shallow pan. When oil get heated up , make small pakora size flattened balls of the marinated onions and fry till they become golden brown.

Serve with sauce or chutney, and enjoy your evening meal.

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