CHHENA MALPUA – छेना मालपुआ (Cottage Cheese Pancakes)

It is only for special occasion, especially festivals, that I pull out elaborate and rich desserts to share on the blog. We mostly don’t hold back on indulgence during festivals and by festivals I mean Holi and Diwali. So, it is only natural that I am sharing a rich Indian pancake–like dish for Holi, which is just a few days away; ten days to be precise.

I have shared several Indian sweet dishes made from chhena i.e. freshly made paneer, on the blog before and Chhena Malpua is another addition to that repertoire. In fact I just recently shared the recipe for Malai Ladoo which also uses freshly made cottage cheese.

Chhena Malpua or Chhena Pua (as it is called in Bihar) are small and thick pancakes made with chhena / freshly made cottage cheese which makes these pancakes delicate. They are made fragrant with the standard Indian additives which are saffron and cardamom but you can use rose water or kewra water, if you wish to. The chhena malpua are different from the regular Malpua that I had shared earlier and also happen to be richer than those. That is one reason it is served on its own and rarely served with Rabdi but if you are feeling adventurous and want an indulgent kind of treat, go for it. These pancakes are also thicker and softer in comparison to regular malpua

The dish is very popular in states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Rajasthan, although each state has a somewhat different version. This is a Bengali version but also popular in Rajasthan. My mother-in-law, who hails from Bihar, makes the chhena malpua in two different two ways. Today I am sharing one of those recipe and I will try and share the other one for Diwali.

Here is what goes in this divine tasting dessert…

For Chhena / Cottage Cheese

1 litre toned Milk/ Cow Milk 

Juice of one Lemon (approximately 3 tbsp)

3 tbsp Water

For Malpua 

Cottage Cheese 

1 Cup full cream Milk (i.e. full fat milk)

120 gm Khoya (also called Mawa)

6 tbsp Flour (Maida)

½ tsp Cardamom Powder

¼ tsp Baking Powder

Ghee for shallow frying

2 tbsp finely chopped Nuts to garnish and serve

For Syrup

2½ Cups Sugar

1¼ Cup Water

5 – 6 Cardamom Pods

A few strands of Saffron

Making Chhena 

Mix together the lemon juice and water. Set aside.

Line a sieve with cheesecloth or a muslin cloth and place it over a pot, to catch the whey. Set aside.

Heat the milk and just when it is about to come to a boil, switch off the heat. Stir the milk for a minute or two and then add the lemon juice water mix.

The milk will curdle and you will see greenish whey. If it does not, then add one or two tablespoons more of lemon juice, till the whey separates. Immediately add a few cubes of ice to the curdled milk and stir.

Strain the contents through the muslin cloth or the cheesecloth. Rinse the cottage cheese, with water, to get rid of the lemon juice from the paneer.

Bring the ends of the cloth together. Gently squeeze to remove excess water. Set aside for half an hour.

Squeeze any remnants of water from the paneer by squeezing the cloth and then remove the paneer from the cloth. Blitz it in a blender or grinder while pulsing it in spurts to attain smooth paneer. Set aside. (You can mash the paneer with your hands, using the base of your palm to do the job)

Make the syrup by placing the sugar and water along with cardamom pods in a sauce pan. Keep stirring till the sugar is dissolved and then reduce the heat to medium. Keep boiling the syrup till one thread consistency is reached. Transfer the syrup and stir in the saffron strands. Cover the warmer with lid and set aside.

Meanwhile, for making the Malpua, add one cup of milk to saucepan on medium heat. Grate the khoya and add it to the milk. Stir till the khoya is assimilated to the milk. (You do not need to keep heating the milk to do that. Once the milk is warm or a little more than warm, switch off the heat and keep mashing and mixing the mawa into the milk. Reheat the milk only if required) Set aside to cool.

Transfer the mashed paneer to a mixing bowl and pour in the milk–khoya mixture. Mix the two together to attain a smooth batter. Use only the traditional whisk for this job. (DO NOT use a blender or grinder to make the batter)

Now add the flour and cardamom powder along with the baking powder. Whisk again to attain a thick smooth batter.

Heat ghee in a frying pan and reduce the heat to minimum. Take one and a half (or one tablespoon for smaller malpua) of the batter and gently drop it in the ghee. Do not try to spread it, it will spread on its own. (do not be tempted to increase the heat to cook the malpua. It needs to be cooked on low heat for it to cook through and not be brown on the outside and raw on the inside)

Fry no more than four or five malpua at a time. Using a spoon, gently dredge the top of malpua with ghee and when the edges and top begins to cook, gently flip the pancake to cook the other side.

The malpua needs to be a little more than golden brown in colour on both sides. (It will be crisp around the edges) Remove the malpua on an absorbent sheet and then dunk them in the sugar syrup.

Finish the whole batch this way and let the malpua soak for at least two to three hours. (You will need to switch the malpua while they are soaking. Gently bring the bottom ones to the top and place the top ones to the bottom, for even soaking.)

Enjoy warm or hot, drizzled with some syrup (they were soaked in) and garnished with nuts of your choice.

Yield – 16 (2½ inch size)

Note – you can use vinegar instead of lemon juice to curdle the milk.

Note – My mother-in-law’s original recipe calls for reducing one litre of full fat milk to 300 ml and then using it for making the batter. I find the process too cumbersome so, instead, I use one cup of full fat milk and add mawa to it, to provide it with the required richness. 

Note – If the syrup gets thick, feel free to add a few tablespoons of hot water to it. 

Thank you so much for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe! 

13 Comments

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  1. 4
    David @ Spiced

    Wow, that cardamom syrup sounds delicious! I’ve never come across pancakes using cottage cheese, but I can see how that would be delicious. Now I’m really craving pancakes! Thanks for sharing this fun version.

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