Thursday, 1 October 2015

Rasgulla (Ricotta Cheese balls in Light Brown Sugar Syrup)

My mother and I simply adore the simplicity portrayed by a famous Bengali dessert called 'Rasgulla'. This cheese dumpling is amazingly versatile to prepare as you can always substitute white sugar with dark molasses kind of sugar to make its light syrup. Apart from that, ricotta cheese is so easy to make at home that leaves fresh  and delicate flavour after one bite. Its a refreshing and tantalizing dessert that will leave you awe after each dumpling. 

         I have no idea about making 'Paneer' or an Indian version of cottage cheese or ricotta chesse until recently I bought a packet of proceed cheese slices from a supermarket. I didn't even bother to check the ingredients on the label but something struck me to check the label. When I went through the ingredients, I came across one particular item called rennet which later I found out to be made of calf's stomach. In retrospect, I was petrified to contemplate that all the while I've been consuming something gross. Well, I'm not a vegetarian but I do avoid eating meat or chicken. Most of the time, my meal consists of vegetables with some fish. 

        I decided to try making ricotta cheese for tiramisu as it's very expensive here in Malaysia. I checked few sites but end up with gayathriscookspot. She has got such a lovely website with varieties of vegetarian cake recipes. She is my inspiration for making cheese but I also made alteration to the original recipe that it no longer has any similarity. Would you believe, if I say, I made the ricotta cheese from full cream milk powder. Now, I can see some of you looking down your glasses or even raising your eyebrow showing disagreement. Trust me, it tasted so good that I didn't find the cheese to be dry but rich and creamy in a good way. I mean it didn't leave oily sensation after taste. I seldom bake or use cheese, heavy cream or whipping cream.Now, this sounds awkward, you may be thinking, is she really from this world. 1/8 cup of good quality unsalted butter made the ricotta cheese full of moisture and a generous cup of thick luscious yoghurt (not sour) rendered the cheese to something soft. 

         Let's check the recipe. I hope you will enjoy this as much I did. Since I'm totally hooked with this ricotta cheese, my mind is thinking how to utilize this gorgeous beauty.






Ingredients :


Full Cream milk powder : 2 generous cups ( do not use instant, please)
Thick homemade curd (use the first day curd not the sour one) : 1 cup
Lemon juice : 1/8 cup
Good quality unsalted butter: 1/8 cup 
Boiling water : 3 cups
Saffron : few strands
Ice cubes : a bowl 
Jaggery or molasses or palm sugar : as much as you want
Water : as much as you want to submerge the dumplings


Method



1. Mix milk powder with 3 cups of hot boiling water and pour this liquid into a heavy bottom pan. At this point, you may add 1/8 cup of butter. Let it come to a rolling boil.

2. Then, gradually, stir in thick curd and lemon juice. Immediately, switch off the stove. The yoghurt and lemon juice will coagulate and curdle the milk. Once you see the milk separating from its whey, now you need to add some ice cubes to stop the cooking process and prevent the cheese from turning rubbery. Ice cubes will retain the softness of the cheese.

3. Pour the entire mixture into a colander that nicely wrapped with cheese cloth or muslin cloth. If you find the mixture in the colander still warm or hot, then add in some ice cubes.

4. Collected whey can be used in many other recipes so you need not discard it.

5.  The soft cheese gathered in the muslin cloth must be drained for lets say overnight tied to a wooden spoon that lay crossed on a big bowl. This process is actually to continue collecting some of moisture in it.

5. The next day, using a spatula, you have to mix and turn the ricotta cheese for 15 minutes until its nice and soft. At this stage, you can add saffron to flavour the cheese. 

6. Shape it into small balls without any cracks which later will expand double in size in the sugar water.

7.Get a wide bottom pan, add molasses or jaggery or palm sugar( as much as you want, I prefer less sweet) and enough water to submerge the dumplings. Let it boil until the sugar dissolves in the water. Check the sweetness at this stage. We are not looking for thick sugar syrup consistency but normal light sugar water.

8. Slowly, slide the dumplings into the sugar water. Make sure they have enough space to expand later. Cover the pan for 5 minutes. Let it cook in the sugar water for another 5 to 10 minutes. The texture of the dumplings will improve the next day, so I advice you to eat after chilling for at least 4 hours. Since this dumpling is made of milk, it has to be consumed within two to three days. 


Happy Cooking


-Abby