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Rasgullas




(Photo by rashmi1979/Flickr)

(Photo by rashmi1979/Flickr)

Fresh cheese balls in syrup. These require skill and patience, but for
those who have been introduced to the delights of this Bengali
specialty, they are well worth the trouble taken.

Makes 12 balls.

Ingredients

2 litres/4 pints/8 cups milk
1 teaspoon tartaric acid dissolved in 125 ml/4 fl oz/1/2 cup hot water
2 teaspoons fine semolina pinch bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
750 g/1 1/2 lb/3 cups sugar
1.5 litres/3 pints/6 cups water
10 cardamom pods, bruised
2 tablespoons rose water or few drops rose essence
few blanched pistachio kernels

Directions

Make the fresh cheese (panir), allowing curds to firm for 15 minutes
before straining through muslin and draining for 30 minutes. (If milk
does not curdle readily, add a little more tartaric acid, dissolved in
water.) When whey has stopped dripping from the curds and before the
curds get too dry, turn them into a bowl (or onto a marble slab or
other smooth, cool surface) and knead hard for 5 minutes. Add semolina
and bicarbonate of soda and knead again until the palm of your hand
feels greasy. Divide into 10 or 12 equal portions and mould each into a
ball.

Make a syrup with the sugar, water and cardamom pods, in a saucepan
which is about 23 cm (9 in) across. Stir until the sugar dissolves and
boil hard for 5 minutes. Pour 1 cup of this syrup into a bowl and
reserve. Add enough water to the pan with the syrup to give a depth of
about 5 cm (2 in) and bring to a fast boil. Gently put the cheese balls
in, leaving enough room for them to expand (they will almost double in
size). Boil fast for 15-20 minutes, then lift out on slotted spoon and
transfer to the reserved syrup. Repeat with more balls until they are
all done. Flavour with rose water and leave to soak overnight for at
least 4 hours. Do not serve rasgullas chilled as they will lose their
spongy texture. Heat gently, just to slightly warm them. When serving,
decorate with slivers of unsalted pistachio nuts.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)

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