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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homemade Chhena & Chhena Halwa

We are still in fall season just entered winter season but as usual we already had our share of bone chilling temperatures and snowfalls (though less than usual). Chicago's notorious gusty winds makes it further worse. What do weather has to do with my blogging, you ask? Then read on. I prefer to take pictures in natural light and it gets quite crazy in this season. I should say that it would be hell up until March, if you decide to take pictures outdoors. There would be more cloudy days than sunny ones and in either case, one wants to curl up on the couch than being outdoors. My inexperience in taking pictures indoors, lousy weather and my basic camera are not helping. It was around minus 7 deg C on the day I took the pictures for most of my posts during this marathon. I decided to take the pictures for many dishes that day just because it was very sunny. I went out into my kitchen balcony to take shots without the gloves on. Within 30 seconds, I was turning hot water in the kitchen sink to help my hands that have gone numb. It was that chillingly cold and my husband couldn't understand why I was torturing myself in the name of blogging. :) That is the reason why I couldn't post any good picture for bread crumbs last week or for today's chhena post. And so kindly bear with me.

Today's post comes under "preps and preserves" theme. Sometimes I end up with fullfat milk that is past due date. I have read somewhere that it is safe to use for a couple of days more the past date since the date mentioned on the can is the selling date and not the expiry date of the milk. Only kids drink fullfat milk at my home and so, if any milk is past sell date or starts smelling / tasting different even before that date, I just make paneer or chhena with it and stash it in the freezer.
Paneer is the only cheese native to Indian subcontinent and is vegetarian. Paneer and chhena are the base ingredients for many Bengali desserts and preparing them at home is quite a simple process. They both involve the same steps of preparation except that the paneer is drained and pressed for long while chhena is the crumbly and moist form of paneer.

Ingredients & utensils needed:
1 litre of whole milk
1 Tbsp of vinegar or juice from a lime / lemon
A saucepan to boil the milk
A colander / strainer
Cheesecloth or a thin cotton cloth

* Bring the milk to boil in a saucepan.

* Lower the heat, add the vinegar or the lime juice to the milk and stir. The solid part, chhena starts separating from the liquid part which is called whey.

* When the chhena completely separates, turn off the stove. Let it sit for a couple of minutes.

* Then line a colander / strainer with the cheesecloth or the cotton cloth and pour the mixture into it. Bring the corners of the cloth together (with the chhena filtrate in it) and hold the bundle under running water to wash away the vinegar / lime juice residue.
* Collect the chhena filtrate and use as needed.

And here is a bonus recipe for today. This is one of my favorite sweets from childhood. Whenever the milk split & curdled at home, my mother used to prepare this yummy halwa.

Chhena - 1 cup
Semolina / rava - a little less than 1/2 cup
Jaggery - 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Food color - A pinch (Optional. I happened to use it only because the color was next to the cardamom bottle. :))

Just mix all the ingredients in a nonstick pan and cook on low flame until semolina is cooked. It is that easy but make sure that you haven't drained all the liquid from the chhena during the filtering process since the moisture from the chhena is needed to cook the semolina.

This is going to be my day 6 post in BM#11 with "preps and preserves" theme. Check here to find out what my fellow marathoners are cooking during this marathon.



Vardhini said...

Is there a difference between Chhena and paneer? Lovely clicks.

Event: Sinful Delights
Event: Stuffed Paratha

Lifewithspices said...

wow too good n looks very yyummy..

Srivalli said...

Looks yum!

Priya Suresh said...

Halwa looks super delicious and absolutely addictive..

Gayathri Kumar said...

I thought chenna and paneer are same but you have taught me the difference. Thanks for the information. The halwa sounds delicious...

Harini said...

simple yet sinful :)

Unknown said...

Looks yummy

Unknown said...

Looks easy. I can also try it out this recipe. Yumm

Chef Mireille said...

looks great...can't wait to try this one!

Nalini's Kitchen said...

Wow!!the halwa looks so yummy....

The Pumpkin Farm said...

looks very nice, tad bit laborious i feel, or was it not?

Cool Lassi(e) said...

That is making me drool! WHat a perfect treat from a curdled milk!

Pavani said...

That is a delicious dessert. It looks awesome.. Great clicks.

Deeps @ Naughty Curry said...

looks great, a nice way to use left over milk.