It was Tibetan dinner night up at the West Eden Village Improvement Society Hall, so the Boy and I made rasgullas. They’re delicious. They are also something of a pain to make, or at least to write down how to make, so this post will be more of a description than a recipe. As always, Wikipedia is your friend:
“The rasagolla is a very popular cheese based, syrupy sweet dish that originated in Orissa. It is supposed to have been a traditional Oriya dish for centuries. Arguably, the best rasagollas in Orissa are made by the Kar brothers, the descendants of a local confectioner, Bikalananda Kar, in the town of Salepur, near Cuttack. Another variant of this dish that is made in the town of Pahala, located between the cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, is also very popular locally. One theory pinpoints the origin of the rasagolla to the town of Puri in coastal Orissa, where it is a traditional offering to the Hindu goddess, Lakshmi, the consort of the Puri temple’s main deity, Jagganath. In fact, it is an age-old custom inside the temple to offer rasagollas to Lakshmi in order to appease her wrath for ignoring her, after the commencement of the annual chariot festiva Rath Yatra.”
Rasgulla are made of chhenna – a light cheese made of whole milk cultured with lemon juice and allowed to drain. You can use farmer cheese or ricotta if you don’t want to go through the several steps and waiting time to make a batch, but you didn’t hear that from me, okay? Knead the chhenna (or whatever) with a little semonlina, form into balls and cook in light sugar syrup (2 to 1) flavored with rose water and 5 – 10 whole cardamon seeds. When the balls have puffed up and the outside surface is smooth, ladle them out into a heavy syrup (1 to 1), again flavored with rose water and cardamon and serve. I generally tint the final syrup pink and serve in a large white porcelain bowl to set off the color.
Thrifty Yankee that I was raised to be, I save the cooking syrup and use it to cook apples down into applesauce – incredibly good. Remove the cardamon pods first.