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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chaanar Payesh

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Ganesha with Mother DurgaLet me start by wishing all my readers Subha Mahalaya.
Today is Mahalaya, which signifies the start of the fortnight long celebration of Durga Puja at our home. Mahalaya is very significant to Bongs. It marks the day, the schools close for Durga Puja. The roads are choked with gazillions of people putting in their final effort to close the pujo shopping. Frantic efforts to finish the extravagant pandals, lighting gets underway.
In our childhood the morning of Mahalaya used to start at four to listen to Mahisasuramardini on the All India Radio. In this digital age many of these customs are losing it’s meaning. You can now stream mahisasuramardini at your own convenience, at any place and time, like from this site. It’s hard for our kids to imagine the ritual of getting up so early in the morning just to listen to a radio program.
Like most households our home also got into festive mood on that day. Since it was a holiday for my mom, she made lots of great stuff for us. One of the regulars used to be Chanar Paayesh (Cottage Cheese Pudding). Here goes the recipe.

Ingredients

  1. 1+1 liter full cream milk
  2. 1/4th cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/4th cup lemon juice or synthetic vinegar
  4. 1/2 tsp. cardamom powder
  5. Few pistachios and almond finely chopped

Procedure

In a heavy bottom pan take one liter of milk and bring it to a boil. When the milk rises to its surface slowly add lemon juice or vinegar to it and turn off the heat. Stir it well to mix. You will see the milk curdles and gets separated from the yellowish green whey.
Keep a strainer lined with a cheesecloth ready. Pour the curdled milk over it to strain the whey . You will see that the paneer or chana is collected in the cheesecloth. Pour one or two glasses of cold water over it to wash any residual sourness and the flavor of lemon out of it.
Tie the four corners of the cheesecloth and hang it from your water faucet for about half an hour.
In a separate thick bottom pan start boiling the rest of the milk and keep stirring continuously to avoid scalding. Lower the heat and let it cook for about half an hour. It will become a shade darker than its original milky white.
Add strained chaana or paneer to it and keep stirring to mix everything well. Let the paneer cook in the milk for 10 minutes. Add sugar and mix well. Taste and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat and sprinkle cardamom powder. Garnish with chopped pistachio and almonds.
Chill before you serve.

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