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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chenna Jhili ( Cheese balls in a light sugary syrup )

Along the much traveled road between Bhubaneshwar and Puri, lies a little discovered world of gastronomic delights. Small 'chalia' hotels dot this stretch and offer a wide variety of Odiya delicacies. One can eat to his/her heart's content without burning a hole in the pocket.

On our previous trip to Puri, we chanced upon one such foodie haven. We had halted by the 'Bata Mangala' temple to offer our regards to the deity. Hunger pangs were hitting us hard and we duly proceeded to one of the hotels after offering worship. The waiter ( if i can so call the urchin who was serving us ) was prompt to take the orders and the food was laid on our table in another five minutes. We had settled for 'Puri-buta dalma' and it turned out to be excellent. We could not
resist going for a second helping.

Once finished, we started looking around for dessert. This huge cauldron of 'Chenna Jhili' sitting next to the cashier was beckoning at us. Once started, we did not finish before wolfing down a dozen of these cuties among the three of us. With our appetites satiated, we proceeded towards our destination.

Anyone who has visited the Puri-Jagannath temple would always remember being over-whelmed by this huge sea of humanity that stalks this place throughout the year. It is one of the char-dhams, the four places that every Hindu is supposed to visit in his lifetime. Jostling the crowds and the ever rude ( or should i say obnoxious ) Pandas, we managed to get a darshan ( mind it...the queqes here operate in a round robin method...no standing and savoring the sight of the Lord being permitted ). For the uninformed, the Puri 'Pandas' are not to be mistaken for the Pandas, the latter being a friendly and lovable lot. The former are special priests who offer worship in the Jaganaath temple and are known to fleece people. Want to break a coconut, put in Rs'XX', want to get close to the lord, put in Rs'YY', and so on.

I was feeling a little low after my husband's run-in with one of these people. But once we hit the road, these thoughts were duly banished. Visiting the beaches is sacrosanct on a trip to Puri. The golden sands were as inviting as ever and we frolicked among the waves for a good two hours. With appetites all whetted up, we started off on the return journey. There were more delights to be discovered on the way back.















Here is the recipe for 'Chenna jhili':

Preparation Time - 20 mins

Ingredients- whole milk ( 1 litre ), maida ( 1 tsp ), powdered sugar ( 2 tsp ), sugar ( 1 3/4 cups ), cardamon (2 nos), oil/ghee for deep frying.

Cooking -

To prepare chenna - Bring milk to a boil. Add the sour curd and wait for a few minutes till the milk solids separate from whey. The whey should have a clear appearance at this point. If not add more curd and boil for another 5 mins.

Once all the solids separate, strain the chenna using a fine cloth or even a strainer with very fine mesh. Allow to stand for sometime till excess water is drained.

Around the same time, dissolve the sugar in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil on medium flame. Crush the cardamon and add to the vessel. We need a very light sugar syrup, so it takes about 7-8 minutes. Remove from flame just before it reaches a stringy consistency.















Take the chenna in a vessel/mixing bowl and add the maida and powdered sugar. Crumble and knead the chenna to remove lumps and it just comes together into a soft dough ( takes about 5-6 mins, do not overdo the kneading ). Pinch small lumps out of the dough and shape into balls. These balls can either be shallow fried or deep fried.

Heat sufficient oil/ghee in a wok. Put one ball into the wok and test if it holds together. If yes, add the remaining balls into the wok and fry them to a brown color on medium heat. (If it starts to crumble/break, add little more maida to the chenna dough and knead for another 2-3 mins.)

Once the balls are fried, put them into the vessel containing the hot sugar syrup. Allow to stand for an hour or so.































Serve with a garnish of chopped almonds or as it is.


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