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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pahala Rasagola

After a lot of failed attempts, I finally recreated the 4 PM magic of Pahala at home. Ok , I was late by a whole hour but as those delectable rasgullas sat in my kitchen soaking up in the sugary syrup I was transported back to this nondescript village near Bhubaneshwar. While it is not the oldest variety of Rasgulla that originated in Orissa, it has certainly taken over the former by miles. The history of Pahala dates back to only about a few decades whereas the Puri Rasgulla has been there since the time Lord Jaganaath is said to have created it.

For the uninitiated, a pit stop at Pahala is considered mandatory when travelling on the Bhubaneshwar Cuttack highway (NH-5). And it is considered criminal to eat just one of the rust colored beauties. Read on to know more about them:

Preparation Time - 1 hour 30 minutes (putting it roughly)

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 liter whole milk ( Cow milk specifically, I used the Nandini Brand available in Bengaluru )
  • 1/2 tsp maida/suji/semolina/bombay rawa ( suji should be raw, DO NOT roast )
  • a pinch of powdered caramelized sugar
  • a pinch of cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp citric acid crystals / 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups water

Preparation - Bring the milk to boil on a medium flame in a thick bottomed vessel. Once it gets to a rolling boil, keep on the flame for another 2-3 minute.

Dissolve the citric acid crystals in 1 cup of HOT water. Or the vinegar in a cup of normal water.

Remove from flame and keep aside for 4-5 minutes. Add the citric acid in one corner of the vessel till the milk shows signs of curdling. Using a spatula, mix the contents of the vessel thoroughly till the greenish water (whey) and milk solids (chenna) get completely separated. ( You might not need to add the entire cup of citric acid but use sufficient amount needed to split the milk )

Place a thin cloth on a metal strainer ( Do not use  plastic as the mixture is still very hot at this point ). Pour the contents of the vessel over it. Wash the chenna under running water for 2 minutes to remove all traces of citric acid. Bundle/gather the corners of the cloth and squeeze out all the water but do not squeeze too hard.

Hang it for 1 hour. Not less nor more. Too much moisture or too less of it can cause rasagulla to disintegrate.

Remove the cloth and place the chenna on your sanitized kitchen counter / chopping board. Start kneading it with the heel of your palms. Then gather the chenna into a ball and start kneading again. Do this for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the suji and powdered caramelized sugar over the kitchen  sugary stuff can cause if consumed regularly ) and there will be quite a lot of oiliness/greasiness on your hands/counter. Work them into the dough. Knead till you can no longer feel the graininess of the suji. The dough will start looking like an orange peel by this time with a dimpled appearance ( reminded me of cellulite which such (and also on the kneading surface). Cover dough with moist cloth and keep aside.

Take the 2 1/2 cups of water in a pressure cooker and place it on a medium flame. Add sugar and cardamom powder, and dissolve it with a ladle. Allow it to come to a boil.

Back to the dough. Remove the cloth and knead it again for 3-4 minutes. Pinch small balls out of it and roll them into smooth looking balls between your palms. There should be no cracks as the water can seep in and disintegrate the balls. (The trick is to apply a little pressure at first when shaping into a ball, them roll it very gently. I got only 5 balls from the 1/2 liter milk that I used.)

Place the balls gently in the boiling water. Close the lid (but remove the weight/whistle first) and cook for 30 minutes ( first 5 minutes on a HIGH flame ). Resist the temptation to open the lid and keep checking on them every 5 mins.

Remove from flame and keep the pressure cooker aside for 5 minutes.

In the meantime boil about 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Remove the balls from the pressure cooker and put into the hot water for 5 minutes ( on medium flame ). Switch off flame.

Transfer the balls back into the sugar syrup and allow to stand for 15 minutes.

Serve immediately. (Pahala rasgullas are best enjoyed hot/warm)

Or keep it in the fridge for a few hours. The chilled ones are also delicious.


  1. Awesome.. I never know this until i read your blog. Looks awesome. Added to my to-do list.

  2. still didnot understand...how the brown colour came ???? should I caramlise a spoon of sugar and add to the chhena while kneading? just let me know how to get the beautiful colour of the pahala rasogolla.

    1. Caramelize the sugar, allow it to cool down, then powder it....this powder should be added to the chenna while kneading.

      Never add the hot caramelized sugar directly to the chenna..

  3. Can I use a vessel with lid for boiling the rasgullas or a pressure cooker is a must?

    1. Hello Lopamudra, a vessel with a tight lid that keeps the inside pressure high should be fine....something like the idli handi will also do

  4. Thanks for this wonderful recipe. I wanted to ask if I can use gur instead of caramalized sugar powder for this recipe. Let me know. Thanks in advance.

    1. yes Asha u can.... but the color will be different and even the smell will change somewhat

  5. Hi Shweta,Thanks for sharing the information. I tried it but the Rasagollas shrinks once I put them in boiling water. Do you have any tips for that?

    1. The problem I suppose is that the rasgullas havn't cooked thoroughly in this case. You can cook them a little longer in the sugar syrup before transferring to the hot water.

  6. Hi,

    Even if I m from Odisha I never knew how to maintain this browny colour thanks for your post I will try.


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