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Subho Bijayar Priti O Suvecha
And, the 5 days of celebrations come to an end with Dashami. Every year the day marks a bitter sweet farewell to the biggest festival of Bengalis. Dashami marks the end of Durga puja, and bijaya starts. Bijaya is the time to visit your relatives and gore on some delicious sweets and snacks.
To extend the Dusshera festivities I decided to make some sweets. It was a spur of the moment thought and so I had to resort to whatever I had in the pantry. I decided to make peda or milk fudge. While the ones you get in Kalighat are made from milk boiled for hours and stirred continuously, I resorted to the easier way – making peda in microwave. It took a total of 4 minutes cooking time in microwave to get the exact consistency you need to prepare the shapes.
The peda will remain good in the fridge for more than week if kept in an airtight container and for about 6 months in the freezer.
Micorwave Milk Powder Peda
- 1 can condensed milk
- ¾ cup milk powder
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder, extra for garnish
- 1 teaspoon saffron
- In a microwave safe bowl pour in the milk powder and ghee, give it a good stir to mix, then pour the condensed milk and mix well. Put it in the microwave and cook on high for a minutes.
- Take it out and add the saffron and cardamom powder and stir. Put it back in the microwave and cook for another 30 seconds. Take out and stir.
- By this time you’ll notice the mixture has taken a dry look on the top, and when you stir it will take a thick soup consistency. Put it back in the microwave for 2 – 3 minutes more in intervals of 30 seconds and stirring in between everytime.
- Once done, pour it on a plate or wax paper and let it cool so that you are able to touch it. Grease your palms with ghee and take about a tablespoon of the mixture and roll to make a ball, press in between your palms to flatten it. Garnish with saffron and cardamom
- Make sure the bowl is deep, as the mixture will rise while cooking, and in a shallow bowl it will spill.
- Instead of flattening the balls, you can also use stone or wooden mold to create shapes of your choice.
Cook like a Bong http://bengalicuisine.net/
Durga puja has already started. As Bengal gets decked up with all the pandals and the puja shopping almost come to an end, I on the other hand, living thousands of miles away is waiting for this weekend to arrive. The Durga puja in the US is held during weekends just for the convenience of the attendees.
While I miss on my dose of the Kolkata Durga pooja fever, I’m getting ready to celebrate the US style Durga puja. I will definitely miss the phuchka, alu kabli, churmur, ghugni – oh I cant stop writing the list of road side food that I’ll be missing on this puja – but would have a new taste, a new experience of celebrating puja just over the weekend.
The street food on Kolkata adds an added charm to the whole flavor of Durga puja, but there is always the home cooked prasad. Though my family strictly becomes vegetarian during the four days of puja, mainly because of the fact we have our own durga idol at home, and she has been worshiped in the family for more than a century now. And, as Ma Durga is bid adieu, the next day, ekdashi is the day to eat fish and only fish. The entire family with brothers, sisters, cousins, their spouses, their kids – you know how the Indian family tree is – eats, sitting on the floor. Last year I was heading the frying department of the lunch, mostly because my mom felt her daughter is old enough to get married so she is old enough to cook for hundred people, or at least the dal and bhaja part. So, my task for last ekdashi was to make loitta macher vada for the entire family. It was intimidating, it was tiring, yet there was a satisfaction seeing everybody asking for more.
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:
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
Smoothly kneaded Paneer
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
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.