The feeling was of being awestruck, when I learnt some years back, that chhena murki or chena murki is a Bengali sweet. I always thought it to be a north Indian dessert. However, when that feeling passed, I realised that it should have come as no surprise since chhena or cottage cheese (also called paneer) is key ingredient for many Bengali confections and sweets. I had shared this in an earlier post as well.
You can partly blame this misconception of mine on the fact that since early childhood I had seen this mithai / confection served at my mother’s house, unfailingly, at every celebration and festival. It was even served to random guests along with chai-nashta! (i.e. tea and snacks) I could never understand the obsession that the family had with this dessert. There came a point when the mere sight of this mithai used to put me off and as a matter of fact I stopped eating it for a very long time.
2020 was a year of many things and reminiscing the past, the good old days, was one of them. And that is when it occurred to me how long it had been since I had this mithai. Later, last year, I saw a friend post pictures of it on Facebook one day and I saw it as a sign that it was time to make it in my kitchen…for old time sake 🙂 And also because the festival of Holi is approaching next month. So, you can try making this easy dessert that gets ready in under fifteen minutes. It also makes for a wonderful homemade edible gift.
250 gm Paneer (check notes at the end of the post)
175 gm Sugar
100 ml Water
½ tsp Cardamom Powder
Icing Sugar, for dusting (optional)
Dice the paneer in half inch pieces. Set aside.
Take a pan (preferably a non-stick one) and add water and sugar to it. Keep stirring the sugar, on high heat, till it completely dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium and keep boiling the syrup till it attains one string consistency.
Add the diced paneer along with cardamom powder and keep stirring the contents gently so that the pieces of paneer do not break. (Ensure that you have a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon for the stirring job)
You need to stir the contents frequently to ensure that the paneer does not stick to the pan. As the syrup begins to thicken, you need to stir the contents continuous. Keep cooking till the sugar begins to crystallize.
(It took me approximately 11 minutes to reach the desired consistency i.e. from the point when I added paneer to the syrup till the crystallization of sugar)
Switch off the heat and remove the pan from the stove top.
Do not stop stirring the contents. You need to cool the contents by stirring them continuously. The sugar will crystallize more and more as it cools, which is just fine. Keep going.
A point will come when the paneer pieces will ‘shed’ excess sugar (You can see that in the pictures). Keep stirring for half a minute more. Shake off excess sugar and remove the paneer pieces on to a plate to cool completely.
Once the paneer has completely cooled, dust it with icing sugar (this is optional) and your chhena murki is ready to eat! Enjoy!
Store in an air tight container.
Serves – 3
Note – It is important that the paneer is soft since the paneer will cook with sugar (branded/ packaged paneer does not work well for this recipe). If the paneer is not soft, it will turn rubbery and chewy after cooking. However, it should be a day old coz fresh paneer is too soft and it will break while cooking and stirring.
Note – The paneer should be devoid of excess moisture. (To ensure this, I place it for a few hours on two to three folded absorbent sheets kept on a kitchen towel.) The excess moisture/ water will lead to the sugar syrup turning watery and requiring more cooking time, which in turn, will make the paneer chewy and rubbery in texture.
Note – You can add the most commonly used aromatics to flavour this dish, which are Kewda essence/ kewda water or rose water instead of cardamom powder.
Thank you so much for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!