And your trip to Eastern India will not be complete unless you enjoy a slice of this world famous Chhena Poda. Growing up, I was never a fan of this cake, may be, because, I used to take it for granted since I saw it plentily available. But after I moved here to the USA, the zeal and interests in creating my own region’s food took over me and I have been trying and entertaining my friends with a lot of my Eastern India delicacies such as:
I kept the recipe of Chhena Poda as is and didn’t alter it a bit from the original, however, I gave the dish a new look. Instead of baking the Chhena Poda in a bread pan, I baked it in cup cake pans to make the servings small and manageable.
I have tried making Chhena Poda two ways. Ricotta Cheese version which is a lazy but easy way to prepare and from the homemade cheese. The difference in taste is not much between both the versions but I particularly like the homemade cheese version since the texture comes out a bit dense.
To make chhena or cottage cheese or paneer at home, you will need:
- 1.5 litre milk or ½ gallon whole milk
- Juice of 2 lemons or ¼ cup vinega
For Chhena Poda you would need
- 2 cups chhena. In the absence of homemade chhena, please use ricotta cheese
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 TBSP semolina or maida or all-purpose flour
- 3 to 4 cardamoms powdered
- ¼ cup crushed cashew
- 2 TBSP warm milk
- 1 TSP baking powder
- 2 TBSP ghee or clarified butter
METHOD to make homemade Chhena or Cottage Cheese or Paneer
- Boil milk in a deep vessel.
- Switch off the gas and add vinegar or lemon juice when the milk starts to boil.
- The vinegar or the lemon juice will make the milk curdle and the chhena will separate from the water
- Drain the whey from the chhena through a muslin cloth.
- Run cold water on the chhena a few times to remove the lemon or vinegar smell.
- Tie the chhena in the muslin cloth and hang for around 15 minutes to drain excess water. You don’t want to make the chhena very dry either. A little moisture in the chhena would be good.
Now Let’s make Chhena Poda
- Crumble and mash the chhena till smooth. Keep aside.
- Add semolina, sugar, cardamom powder, cashew nuts, ghee, milk and baking powder to the chhena.
- Mix well.
- Grease cupcake tins with ghee and line them with parchment paper. Alternatively, you can make them in another shaped baking tins.
- Spoon the chhena mixture into the cupcake pans and smoothen the top using a flat spatula.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180-degree C or 350-degree F for 45 minutes till the top turns brown.
- Carefully remove the Chhena Poda into individual plates once they are cold.
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