Rasgullas are made from balls of Chhana/Paneer/Indian Cottage Cheese or Ricotta Cheese and Suji/Semolina dough. Then these soft and spongy balls are cooked in a sugar syrup. The quality of the channa is vital in making of soft rasgullas, as I realised while making rasgullas at home.
A few months ago my Rasgullas or Roshogollas was aired on Noor Dubai TV and Dubai One during Ramadan (above video). And whoosh by some sudden act of magic, I got the video in hand today just as I had sat down to write a festive post wishing all of you Shubho Bijoya!
If you are hopping into my blog for the first time and wondering why you are being pulled into such a Bengali post – well, I am a quintessential Bong (colloquial term to Bengalis) and at this hour being dunked under the massive onslaught of Bengali nostalgia and elation. Nostalgia, because sitting here on the shores of Dubai, I am remembering all the festive memories of Durga Pujo from my childhood. Elated, because here I am – a Bengali outside Bengal, sitting on a foreign shore sharing my stories with all of you. You may or may not be a Bengali, or an Indian for that matter. This could be your story or may not be, yet you are making my story yours!
Rasgulla Macapuno & Essence of Living in Dubai
In the month of May this year I had written a post Rasgulla Macapuno – When a Filipina Turns into a Bong. A fusion recipe on rôshogolla or rasgullas – perhaps the most famous of all Bengali sweets. It was a tribute to Lady M, our Filipina nanny without whom my endless photographic sessions on food experiments would never have materialised. Rasgulla Macapuno is our fusion dessert inspired by Rasgulla, the popular Bengali sweet and Macapuno, the sweetened tender coconut flesh used in several Filipino desserts. I was contacted by Noor TV to recreate it for a Ramadan special episode for Noor TV and Dubai One. Only this time, I was requested to make the rasgullas at home!
Reem, Ramadan, Akl el Bait… and the Emirati woman of today
A very young, elegant lady Reem from Noor Dubai TV came home to make a film on akl el bait or homemade food for Ramadan. Not mentioning her in this post would be wiping off some very essential facts about the modern generation of Emirati women. Sweet and almost shy but insisting on carrying her cameras and other props all by herself, Reem was the epitome of silent strength. She bowled me over with her proclamation – ‘I love Rabindra Sangeet and I love watching Bengali films’!
My parents were incidentally visiting us at that time and my mum is a proponent of Rabindra Sangeet (Tagore songs). Reem requested my mum to sing ‘Bodhu kon alo laglo chokhe‘ pronouncing the word in perfect Bengali. She told me how she loved listening to Rezwana Banya Chowdhury, a very famous Rabindra Sangeet exponent from Bangladesh. Love for World Cinema seemed to shape[o Reem’s knowledge, exposing her to different cultures. She conversed on Bengali Cinema and Rabindra Sangeet just like a proud quintessential Bengali would in a typical Bengali cultural meeting or a friendly dinner get-together. Her conversations with my mother were in the lines of… ‘Oh I can’t remember that song in Chokher Bali… can you sing that Mama?’ Every time we interacted later on, she would always say, “Give my regards to Mama and Mela (that’s our Lady M)’!
‘There’s one condition when you mail me’, she declared… ‘you’ll have to send me a Bengali song every time, preferably Rabindra Sangeet’! Yes, Reem, I loved the film that you made on my rasgulla for your Ramadan special episodes. You are a brilliant representation of modern generation Emirati women who are shaping up Dubai – well manicured hands and a treasure chest full of knowledge and awareness. Professional yet humane, articulate yet coy, opinionated yet subtle.
Historically, the Emirati women had been responsible for looking after the day to day needs of their families as the menfolk who had been primarily engaged in pearl diving and fishing, left for work for many long months. Today, Emirati women are significantly contributing to the nation’s progress – in all spheres of life – be it in the private sector or the public sector. The following articles are interesting reads on the roles that Emirati women play in the development of today’s UAE… The role of Emirati women in the UAE (The National), The Women in the UAE (wiki)
Making Rasgullas at home
Rasgullas are made from balls of Chhana/Paneer/Indian Cottage Cheese or Ricotta Cheese and Suji/Semolina dough. Then these soft and spongy balls are cooked in a sugar syrup. In Dubai, there are many Indian sweet shops selling good rasgullas. We like our rasgullas from Chappan Bhog, Bikanerwala, Gangaur or Puranmal. The quality of the channa is vital in making of soft rasgullas, as I realised while making rasgullas at home.
For the Gollas or the round Channa balls For the Shira/Sugar Syrup For the Gollas For the Shira/Sugar Syrup and the Rosogollas
Roshogollas or Rasgulla
2 litres full fat cow’s milk (will make about 24 rasgullas)
2 limes, juiced Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp suji or semolina
1 tbsp maida or plain flour
1 tsp sugar
muslin cloth/fine strainer
5 cups water – 5 cups
3 to 4 cups granulated sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
½ tsp green cardamom, crushed
2 tsp rose water – 2 tsp
small pinch of saffron
The following Rasgulla recipe is from Cook like a Bong. The Rasgullas came out soft and round and absolutely crack-less!
For the Gollas or the round Channa balls
For the Shira/Sugar Syrup
For the Gollas
For the Shira/Sugar Syrup and the Rosogollas
An excerpt from my essay on Roshogolla or Rasgulla - Bengali's Own Sweet... Importance of Chhana Chhana is fresh, unripened curd cheese widely used in India and Bangladesh and is a crumbly and moist form of Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese or farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids). This Cutting of the Milk to make Chhanna ie Acidification is the most important factor affecting the quality of Rôshogolla. Chhana is created in a similar process to Paneer except that it is not pressed for as long. Though the Paneer can be traced back to the Vedas dating back to 3000 BC and has an Indian origin, Chhana that is the base for most of the Bengali Sweets has been imported from Portugal and can be traced back to the Portugese settlements in Bengal during the 16th Century AD. Important Factors Affecting the Quality of Rôshogolla - The Cutting of the Milk to make Chhana ie Acidification is the most important factor affecting the quality of Rôshogolla - Rosh or Chasni ie the thickness or BRIX of Sugar Syrup - The temperature and the way the medium ie the previous day’s whey water, vinegar, lime is introduced to cut the milk (the best results are produced when you slowly introduce the acid medium into the milk)
Do watch (though technically I should be asking you to read) a brilliant and beautiful post from Journey Kitchen on ‘How to make Paneer at home’.
Durga Pujo around the world & a desi trail in Meena Bazaar
As Bengalis celebrate the Pujo all around the world, I hit the roads of Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai area on the rebound… on my own little desi trail! Contrary to the glitzy shopping malls in Dubai, Meena Bazaar has a different charm altogether. From glaring lightnings to the blaring horns from cars struck in perennial traffic, from the snaky lanes and by-lanes to the crowded main-road, from Indian and Pakistani stores selling traditional clothing to Iranian spice shops, from haute-couture fashion boutiques (selling mainly traditional Indian and Pakistani ethnic attire) to stores selling high-street fashion, branded watch-houses to shops – the ’10 Dirhams shops’ selling inexpensive models, from electronics to home products, from computers to spare-parts, from quick-fixers like cobblers and menders to expensive tailoring shops – I love Meena Bazaar. Specially when the narrow dark alleys suddenly open up and you are hit with the bright sunlight and the sparkling sea-green waters of the Dubai Creek!
The alley leading to the Hindu temple is a sudden revelation – I love the cultural aspects of any religion – the strength in the spiritual beliefs and traditions of people believing in their respective faiths. The faces of people going into the temples with their flower offerings laid out on plates says it all – smitten with the belief of the submission to some form of supreme strength above, however that may have been defined in each individual’s respective religion.
The last week, the Bengalis world-wide were caught up in a festive frenzy celebrating their biggest festival – the Durga Pujo. Facebook updates from our friends is testimony to Durga Pujo celebrations around the world – Bangkok, Singapore, different cities in the US, UK, Europe, Oman and many other places. The Pujo celebrations in Dubai takes place in either the Sindhi Hall tucked into an alley in the Meena Bazaar area or privately organised by different associations.
Today is Bijoya, the last day of the worship and the celebrations come to an end as everyone greets each other, the younger ones seeking the blessings of the elder ones. The Bengali married women wear their traditional white saris with red borders and perform the Sindoor Khela where the married women smear each other with Vermillion. The men engage themselves in embraces – the Kolakuli. Bengalis embrace each other is the bond of love and sweets! Tomorrow is also Eid. This is indeed a prolonged festive season. May all your lives be filled with peace, prosperity, health and happiness – wherever you are!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Try some of my dessert recipes: Semaiya Kheer or Vermicelli Pudding Firni or Ferni - The broken rice pudding Moong Daaler Payesh or Yellow Lentil Pudding
Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, nor are there any affiliated links for any of the brands that may have been mentioned in this blogpost. The subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and all images are from my personal album. While you enjoy reading my posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts.