Rasgulla – A traditional syrup based dessert of Bengal

Rasgulla

Rasgulla – A very popular Bengali sweet, which is soft, Juicy & Spongy made from milk and the most popular sweet delicacy in Calcutta as well as rest of India and the world. Rasgulla is a syrupy sweet of Bengal and Orissa. It is mainly prepared by kneading chhena and a small amount of semilina. These are rolled into small balls, and then boiled in light syrup made of sugar. This is done until the sugar enters the balls. Read on to find out more interesting information about the history, origin and the background of rasgulla.

Interesting Information on Background of Rasgulla

It is believed that rasgulla was invented in Bengal where it was considered to be a traditional sweet. Nobin Das, who was a confectioner in Kolkata, is considered as the father of rasgulla. He is famously known as “Rasagolla’s Columbus”. But by the time Nobin Das introduced rasgulla to Kolkata, it had already become a traditional sweet of Orissa, in the cities of Bhubaneswar and Puri.

The recipe or rasgulla then spread from Orissa to West Bengal. All this happened during the Renaissance when the Brahmin cooks who belonged to Orissa were employed by the Bengali families. It was from here that the various Orissa delicacies got incorporated into the Bengal kitchen.

During 1868, Nobin Das, who belonged to Kolkata, modified the recipe of the rasgulla as he wanted to extend the life of the sweet which was originally highly perishable. As a result of his modification, the rasgulla became a lot spongier than it originally was but it remained non-perishable for quite some time, which made it easier for Nobin Das to market it as a product. Subsequently, K.C. Das who was Nobin Das’s son began to can the rasgulla which resulted in the widespread availability of the sweets.

Slowly, the popularity of the rasgulla spread to all over India. We can find rasgullas all over the country today; specially the canned ones. Not only India, rasgullas have become very popular in Pakistan and Bangladesh as well. It is really heartening to see even South Asian grocery stores in countries like the United Kingdom and America are now housing rasgullas. They are marketed not only by K.C. Das but by some famous sweet makers from Bikaner and Delhi as well.

Now, we also find various variants of this traditional sweet. In Orissa, the Pahala variant for example, is generally served very hot. On the other hand, in Bengal kheermohan refers to a bigger version of the rasgulla, whereas in Orissa, the words kheermohan and rasgulla are used for each other.

There are rasgullas made of jaggery which are available in Bengal, as well as Orissa during festivities. Rasgulla has become a very popular dessert in India. It has also served as the precursor to many other sweets like the rasmalai, raskadam, chamcham, pantua, malai chop and the kheersagar.

Rasgulla Recipe

Ingredients :

For Rasgulla balls

  • Milk- 4 cups
  • Lemon juice disssolved in water- 2 tablespoon lemon juice dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water
  • All purpose flour (maida)- 1 tablespoon

For the sugar syrup

  • Sugar- 1 1/2 cup
  • Water- 4 cups
  • Cardamom powder- 1/4 teaspoon

Method

  • Heat milk in a pan and bring it to boil for about 8-10 minutes.
  • When it starts boiling, add lemon juice and wait for the milk to curdle completely.
  • Remove from the heat and let it cool for about 3-5 minutes.
  • Pour over a thin muslin/cotton cloth and tie it with a tight knot. On straining this milk, the curd is obtained is called “paneer”. wash paneer well using muslin cloth under cold running water to remove lemon juice flavor.
  • Knead paneer for about 5-7 minutes to make a smooth dough. Add flour and knead again for few minutes.
  • Make smalls of about 1 inch in size (8-10) of the dough and keep aside.
  • Next make sugar syrup. Mix sugar, water, and cardamom powder in a saucepan and bring it to boil.
  • Add paneer balls to the hot syrup on a medium heat and cook for about 15-20 minutes with lid partially covered.
  • Transfer into a serving dish.
  • Refrigerate and serve chilled.

Note

  • Rasgullas should always be cooked on a high flame.
  • The softness of the rasgulla depends on how well you knead the paneer. The more you knead, the more spongy will be the rasgullas.
  • While cooking, it should double their size.
  • The cooking time of the rasgullas will vary depending on their size.

Another Rasgulla Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Litre milk
  • 3 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 2 tsp All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Rose essence or cardamom powder
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar

Method :

  • Take a pan and heat milk in it. Bring it to a boil.
  • Add lemon juice, stirring slowly and gently till cheese separates from the milk.
  • Now turn off the heat and strain it through a strainer.
  • Make sure all the water from the cheese is drained.
  • Now knead it to make soft dough.
  • Combine flour with it and knead again.
  • Make small rounded balls from the dough, keep aside.
  • The balls should not have any cracks in it.
  • Now combine sugar and water in a saucepan and boil it.
  • Add cheese balls to the syrup and cook it for about 30 minutes with lid partially covered.
  • Add rose essence or cardamom powder and turn the heat off.
  • Allow to cool and serve .

Chhena Recipe

Ingredients :

• 1 litre cow’s milk
• 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (nimbu ke phool)

Method :

  • Dissolve the citric acid in 1/2 cup of water and keep aside.
  • Bring the milk to a boil in a pan, stirring continuously.
  • Remove from the fire and stir for 5 to 7 minutes till the milk is slightly cool.
  • Add the citric acid solution and stir the milk gently.
  • The milk mill curdle and the whey will separate. The whey has to be clear thus indicating the milk has completely curdled. Allow it to rest for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Strain out all the whey using a clean damp muslin cloth.
  •  Fold all the 4 sides of the muslin cloth and twirl it gently so that all the whey that is in the milk solids gets evenly drained out.
  • Gather the cloth from all 4 sides and squeeze the chenna lightly about 3 to 4 times so that most of the whey gets drained out.
  • Remove the chenna onto a clean plate and knead gently so that it is free of lumps and take care not to apply too much pressure while kneading the chenna.
  • It is advisable to use this almost immediately.
  • Use as required.

Points to remember :

  • Make sure that the milk is lukewarm while adding the citric acid mixture. Do not shock hot milk as it will affect the quality of the chenna.
  • Always use cow’s milk for making chenna as it has a low fat content.
  • If you use buffalo’s milk, let the milk rest after boiling it and then discard the skin that is formed.
  • Always use fresh chenna for making rasgullas.

Tarla Dalal’s Rasgulla Recipe

Ingredients :

For the rasgullas

  • chenna (Refer to the above recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon plain flour (maida) for dusting

For the sugar syrup

  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk

For the Rasgullas

  • Divide the chenna into 16 equals parts and roll each part into a ball, taking care to see that the there are no cracks on the surface.
  • Dust the back of a flat plate (thali) lightly with the flour and place the rolled chenna balls on it.

For the sugar syrup

  • Combine the sugar and milk with 3 cups of water in a large pan approx. 200 mm. (8″) in diameter and 150 mm. (6″) in height and heat while stirring continuously till the sugar dissolves.
  • When the syrup comes to a boil, the impurities in the sugar will begin to float on the surface, forming a grey layer.    •    Heat over a medium flame to allow the grey layer to float. Do not stir at this point as the layer will break and it will not clarify the syrup.
  • After about 5 minutes, slowly drizzle 1 cup of water form the sides of the pan with the help of a ladle. Water added at this stage will bring down the temperature of the sugar syrup and will not allow it to boil and break the grey layer.
  • Continue to simmer the syrup over a medium flame for about 10 minutes and then gently remove the grey layer using a slotted spoon.
  • Bring the syrup to the boil once again and then slowly drizzle another cup of water from the sides of the pan using a ladle. remove all the remaining impurities from the syrup, again using a slotted spoon.
  • Increase the flame and boil vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. Keep aside.

Method :

  • Mix 2 teaspoons of the plain flour with 3/4 cup of water to make a flour solution. Keep aside.
  • Heat the sugar syrup in a deep pan over a high flame and allow it to boil vigorously.
  • When it boils, sprinkle half the flour solution in the sugar syrup and then add the chenna balls by upturning the plate on which they are kept. (Do not touch the chenna balls at this point as they are fragile).
  • When the flour solution is added, a frothy layer is formed on the surface of the syrup.
  • If the frothy layer begins to subside, sprinkle the remaining half portion of the flour solution.
  • After this, keep on sprinkling water (minimum 1 cup) on the surface of the sugar syurp. Ensure that the syrup froths all the time while cooking the rasgullas.
  • Cook for about 15 minutes, continuously sprinkling water to enable the froth to form.
  • Check if the rasgullas are cooked. This is determined by touch. If the rasgulla springs back and retains its shape when pressed, it is cooked. Another way of checking is to drop a rasgulla in a pan of cold water.
  • If it sinks to the bottom, it is cooked.
  • Remove form the fire.
  • Transfer the rasgullas to a bowl along with 2 ladles of sugar syrup and 1 cup of water.
  • Cool and chill for approx. 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Tips :

  • Rasgullas should always be cooked on a very high flame.
  • While cooking rasgullas, the sugar syrup must froth continuously.
  • The pan should be approximately 200 mm. (8″) in diameter and 150 mm. (6″) in height and the sugar syrup should fill about 1/3 of the pan.
  • While making rasgulla shapes (see variation below), always ensure that there are no cracks on the surface of the shapes.
  • While cooking, rasgullas expand to at least 4 times their original size.
  • While sprinkling water on the syrup when the rasgullas are cooking, make sure you sprinkle a little water at a time (approx. a teaspoon at a time using your hands) and not large quantities.
  • The cooking time of the rasgullas will vary depending on their size. (i.e. large shapes viz. the rolls, rajbhog etc. will need more cooking time and versa).
  • VARIATION : KAMALA BHOG Add a few drops of orange essence (or 1 teaspoon of finely chopped orange rind) and a few drops of orange food colour to the chenna. Proceed as for rasgulla. Also, add a few drops of orange food colour to the sugar syrup just before adding the chenna balls to it.
  • VARIATION : RASGULLA SHAPES. SQUARES : Divide the chenna into 14 equal portions and gently shape each portion into a 25 mm. x 25 mm. (1″ x 1″) square. LOGS : Divide the chenna into 8 equal portions and gently roll each portion into the shape of a log of 12 mm. (1/2″) diameter and 50 mm. (2″) length. Proceed with the sugar syrup and the method of cooking as stated in the preceding recipe.
  • Use as required.