Chanar Dalna – Homemade Bengali Cottage Cheese Curry

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Paneer is a household name in almost every Bengali family now. When it comes to having vegetarian platter a paneer preparation is always there; be it an occasion or just a simple dinner. But, even a decade back paneer was not that readily available.

The next best option was to make paneer at home. The paneer that is available in the market is processed and mixed with other binding agents like flour along with curdled milk to give it a tougher texture. The one that is made at home is softer and doesn’t have flour. This is called chana. Chana is milk curdled with lactic acid, like lemon juice and squeezed thoroughly to drain out the extra water.

Chana is the basic ingredient of almost all sweets that we eat, but if you are in a mood for something savoury to make with chana, chanar dalna is a very good option. Dalna is a type of Bengali curry with a rich and thick gravy unlike the ordinary jhol which is more watery.

To make the chana, all you need to do is boil about a litre/ quarter gallon of milk, it will give about 200gms/ 7 oz of chana. Once the milk starts rising pour in about 4 tablespoons of lemon juice or about 1 tablespoon calcium lactate. The milk will start curdling – the solids will separate from water. Drain out the water using a cheese cloth. Squeeze the chana well to drain out any excess water. You can also hang it for about an hour before you start using it. If there is any extra water in the chana, the cubes will fall apart as you cook.

Chanar Dalna - Bengali Cheese Curry

Indian, Side, Cottage cheese, Chana, Chenna, Bengali curry
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • For the cubes -
  • 200 gms chana
  • 2 tablespoon chickpea powder/ besan
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon green chilli paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • For the dalna –
  • 1 medium sized potato, cut into square
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  • Knead the chana well till your palm start feeling oil, mix in all the ingredients excepting the oil and knead once again
  • Pat the chana to make a 1” thick square slab, cut into 1” cubes and let it rest for 5-10mins
  • Heat about a quarter cup of oil in a skillet and fry the cubes till lightly brown, place on a kitchen paper to drain out the excess water, reserve for later
  • Season the cubed potatoes with a pinch of salt and turmeric powder. In the same skillet add the cubed potatoes in the leftover oil and fry till they turn light brown, drain out the excess oil using a kitchen towel and reserve for later
  • Mix all the powdered spices for dalna excepting garam masala powder, pour in water to make a thick paste
  • Heat the mustard oil in a wok and put in the whole cumin seeds, as they start spluttering add the fried potatoes and pour in the spice paste mix well to coat all the potatoes. Stir till the color takes a little darker shade; turn the heat if you fear to burn the spices. Pour in about 1 ½ cup of water, season with salt
  • Cook covered for about 5-7minutes till the potatoes are well done. Put in the fried chana cubes and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
  • Add the garam masala powder and ghee, if you are using and serve hot with warm white rice or chapatti.

Hot Tips – If you want more gravy in the dalna, then pour half cup more water. The chana cubes tend to absorb the water, so if you keep it for longer period, the gravy will dry out. You can cut the chana in any way you like, if you prefer diamond shape then go for it, or roll it between your palms to make small balls.

To curdle the milk, I prefer lemon juice as calcium lactate has a funny smell, and it doesn’t taste good when using the chana in curry.

More on chanar dalna from other blogs – Preoccupied’s take on the grandmom’s secret chanar dalna. Not exactly the typical Bengali recipe, here’s another way of preparing chanar dalna from Cookerefic.

 If you like this post, please consider linking to it or sharing it with others. I’ll love to hear your comments too.You can also Subscribe to BengaliCuisine by Email, or Subscribe in a reader

Dhokar Dalna

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I hope you all had loved the round up for The Non-Veggie Event. As for me, hosting an event for the first time was of great great pleasure. The recipes I received were so good and I felt pleasure in going through all the recipes. Each was better than the other. Chicken, mutton, eggs- everything was on the menu. I even tried out some of them and they were so yummy.

So after all these meat and flesh and spices all over I thought of choosing something light and vegetarian for my next post.

Dhokar dalna is one of the oldest recipes, which is of absolute Bengali origin. You will never find anything equivalent to this recipe. If any of you have anything which you feel is similar to Dhokar Dalna, then please do write a comment on that. Even better of you please post it on your blog and leave a comment along with the URL of the post.
I found my mother cooking many items and calling them with the same prefix “Dalna”. I took this opportunity to search about what Dalna actually means. My source was noone but my inspiration of cooking , my MOM. After partition many people came from East Bengal, now better known as Bangadesh. In present Bengal (West Bengal, India) they are popularly known as Bangal(as in Bangladesh) and those who were actually from present West Bengal are called Ghoti. As the language changes with every mile, so here also there is no exception. What the Bangal call tarkari (curry) the Ghotis call it Dalna. So, this Dhokar Dalna most probably originated from the people who were the oldest inhabitants of present West Bengal. There are many more stories of this differetiation in every part of Bengal. If I start writing I’ll never ed, so better keep it for future.

Dhoka is a mixture of two types of pulses, and the curry with very little spice is called Dhokar Dalna.

Ingredients:

Yellow split pea (Matar dal): 40gms

Bengal gram (Chana Dal): 160gms

Refined wheat flour (Maida): 1 tablespoon

Potatoes (Aalu): 2 medium sized

Sugar (Chini): 1 teaspoon

Black pepper (Gol morich guro): 1 teaspoon

Asfoetida (Hing): 1 pinch

Fennel seed (Mouri):  ½ teaspoons

Cinnamon powder (Dar chini guro): 1 pinchr

Cardamom powder (Elaichi): 1pinch

Nigella (Kalo jeera): 1 teaspoon full

Cumin Seeds (Jeera): ½ teaspoons

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): 1 ½ teaspoons

Red Chili powder (Sukhno Lankar Guro): 1½ teaspoon

Mustard oil (Sarser tel) for frying

Salt to taste

Preparation:

For the Dhoka:

  • Grind both the pulses together in a powder. Grind it well so that it becomes absolutely powdery.
  • Alternately you can also soak the pulses for about 2 to 3 hours and then make a paste of the soaked pulses.
  • Add salt, ½ teaspoons each of turmeric powder, ½ teaspoons of red chili powder, turmeric powder, black pepper, cumin seeds;  refinedwheat flour, sugar, asafoetida, cinnamon powder, cardamom powder and 1 teaspoon of nigella to the dough.
  • If you have dry grinded the pulses then add water and make thick dough. Keep it for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Heat ½ teaspoons of oil in an wok. Add the dough and toss for 2 to 3 minutes or till the dough become quite dry.
  • Spread the tossed dough over a plate with almost an inch depth. Cut it into small diamond shapes. The dhoka is now ready to fry.
Dhoka

Dhoka

  • Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the dhokas till they get hard and the inside also gets cooked. You can prick them with a knife. If the knife comes out with sticking, then the inside is also cooked.
Deep Fried Dhoka

Deep Fried Dhoka

For the Dalna:

  • Cut thepotatoes in medium size square pieces.
  • Heat oil in a wok. Fry the potatoes till they are golden brown.
  • Add the cumin seeds to it along with turmeric and chili powder.
  • Pour in water and salt.
  • Now cook till the gravy thickens and the potatoes are cooked well.
  • Carefully drop the dhokas and just boil for 2 minutes in low flame. Do not toss else the dhokas will break.

Take it out of flame and Dhokar Dalna is ready to serve. Dhokar Dalna serves as a wonderful side dish for vegetarian meals. Try it out and send me your comments. Keep in touch and till then HAPPY COOKING AND HAPPY EATING.

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Sending this recipe for Home Grown Gourmet event hosted by Erika

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