Soft and spongy, drenched in sugar syrup; Khirmohan for an Oriya, Rôshogolla for a Bengali, Rasgulla for a Punjabi (and other north Indians) – this mouth watering Indian dessert can be eaten by dozens!! Yes, I said dozens because you can have this dish guilt free since it is low on calories (more so if you squeeze out the sugar syrup).  

Made from cottage cheese cooked in syrup of sugar, traditionally Rasgullas were served at room temperature but these days they are served chilled. In northern India, the dish comes flavoured in saffron, rosewater, and sometimes garnished with chopped pistachios.
What better way to celebrate Durga Puja! Though it is the state of Bengal and the Bengalis who are commonly associated and credited with this sweet, the fact is that the origin of this dish lies in the city of Salepur in the state of Orissa. Surprised! Aren’t you? It was during the British rein that this dish found its way to the state of Bengal.

Though simple as it sounds – cheese balls cooked in sugar syrup – it took me a few trials and errors before I could  understand the nuances of technique and dish out soft and spongy rasgullas. The first attempt was such a disaster that the balls were hard enough to play cricket with!! J

There are certain key factors that need to be kept in mind so as to dish out soft and spongy rasgullas:
  • Drain well, the water from cheese (by hanging it in a muslin cloth for 2-3 hours)
  • Ensure that you do not squeeze out too much water either since that will leave the cheese dry and the balls will not swell or become spongy when boiled

Keeping the consistency of cheese perfect is actually the key in creating this dish– I speak this for myself.

You need the following:

1 litre milk (Use cow milk for best results)
½ tsp citric acid crystals
½ – 1 tsp refined flour (optional)
450-500 ml water
300 gm sugar
½ tsp lemon juice
A pinch saffron (optional) or 
½ tsp of ground cardamom (optional)
Boil the milk the night before you intend to make the rasgullas. 
Next day, remove the cream from the top. 
Reheat the milk till it becomes a little hotter than the warm stage. Add crystals of citric acid dissolved in 2 tsp of water. 
Do not disturb the milk during that time. Let the milk curdle. It may take 20-25 minutes.  
Once the whole milk gets curdled, drain the water by passing it through a muslin cloth. 
Tie the the ends of the muslin cloth and hang it for 2-3 hours. Ensure that the water is well drained.
Now in a large plate, mash the cottage cheese with the palm of your hand. Mash it well so that no grains are left. 
If you wish, you may add refined flour to the cheese at this stage. 
Start making small balls (since they will double in their size when boiled) with the cottage cheese by gently pressing the cheese between your palms.

Put a deep container (I use a wok) on fire and mix in the sugar and water. Once the water starts to boil, add lemon juice so that all the scum comes to the top. Remove the scum from the water surface.

Gently add these balls to the boiling water. Ensure that water is on a rolling boil. Cover the pan with a lid and let the balls of cheese cook for 10-12 minutes. Then uncover it and every half a minute sprinkle the rasgullas with little bit of water. This technique makes the rasgullas softer and spongier. Carry on this process for 5-7 minutes.

Once done, remove the container of rasgullas from fire and transfer them to the serving bowl. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Makes 8-10 rasgullas
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