Nolen Gur’er Rasgullas- flavours of winter!
A Very Happy New Year to my readers! This post comes a bit late, but nevertheless its a celebratory post! I have lots of things to celebrate and be thankful for this new year. Thankfully after this blog started, I have one more place to celebrate life.This is the place where I live my passion and I consider myself lucky to be able to do that. A school kid like enthusiasm overtakes me, when I am back from work with a must try recipe on my mind. Like a kid, running to play after school, I just unwind myself after a boring day at work by making a dash at kitchen.
Nolen gur/ khejur Gur is a hugely popular bengali ingredient, available only in winters. Its also called notun gur (literally means new jaggery) or Khejur gur ( date palm jaggery). Its marketed as solidified round discs( that’s how a noble gentleman gave it to us) called patali gur. Nolen gur is actually the liquid form of patali gur.
Unlike the normal jaggery obtained from cane sugar, this gur/ jaggery is extracted from the liquid sap of date palm trees. A delicacy in itself, it’s used widely as a replacement for sugar/ normal jaggery in all Bengali sweets like rasgullas, sandesh( cottage cheese fudge) , kheer/ payesh ( sweet rice pudding) and many more, especially during winters. Compared to the usual cane sugar jaggery, this date Palm jaggery has a distinct flavor, and elevates any sweet dish to another level. Thus , it is also being used in fusion cuisines for making cheesecakes, ice creams. So when I got hold of a packet of this jaggery , I wasn’t complaining at all! My mind started spinning thinking about various options which I have been just gazing on food blogs till now.
When I was researching about this ingredient, I was in total awe as I read about the traditional way of collecting and processing of this most awaited winter ingredient. I would picture a bengali village, straight out of the Tagore stories,with dhoti clad men, carrying small earthen pots to be hanged below the small drilled holes on a Palm trunk. The droplets of sap are collected throughout night, and the pots collected next morning to be cooked and converted into this golden coloured jaggery. In summers, the juice ferments by morning, hence is not considered suitable for making gur. Instead it is consumed as a drink for its intoxication properties.
- Chenna/ unprocessed cottage cheese ( readymade/ home made with full fat cow’s milk) – 500gm (roughly 3 packed cups) to know how to make home made chenna, read below.
- All purpose flour ( maida)- 1 teaspoon
- Semolina (sooji) – 2 teaspoons
- Cardamom powder – 1 teaspoon
- Water ( for making syrup) 3 litres+ extra if the syrup is drying out while boiling.
- Sugar- 400gm (around 2 cups)
- Date Palm jaggery- 250 gm ( roughly 1 cup when grated and loosely packed)
- I used sugar and jaggery in almost equal proportions, more the jaggery content in the syrup, more deep will be the colour, So suit yourself accordingly. I wanted to save my gur for some other delicacies, so used it frugally!
- You will get best results from chenna made using full fat cow milk, or purchase ready made fresh chenna if you can.
To make home made chenna:
- In a container, boil around 2.5-3 litres milk, once done keep it on medium flame and gradually add 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar, in increments. Do not mix.
- Check for the signs of splitting/curdling, the whey seperating as light yellowish liquid from the solid cheese. If the milk isn’t curdling with one tablespoon, keep adding few more drops, stop in between to check again for signs of splitting.
- Once the whey seperates clearly,switch off the flame drain away the liquid, collect the cheese in a colander or muslin cloth. Press it slightly to remove excess liquid.
- Take fresh chenna on a clean flat surface. Add teaspoon of flour and 2 teaspoons of semolina, mix it into the chenna and start kneading.
- To knead the chenna, use the heel of the palm start pushing small batches of cheese away from you. Once the full quantity is done, gather all the cheese and repeat. Do this process for 8-10 minutes, until the granules of chenna are broken down,and it becomes a smooth mass.
- Add cardamom powder and mix into the smooth chenna.
- Make small balls, slightly bigger than marbles and keep aside. Remember, the chenna balls will swell up and almost double after they are cooked.
- In a big vessel (big enough for the chenna balls to go inside the syrup all at once ) Add around 2.5 litres of water, sugar, grated jaggery and mix well until dissolved. Keep around 1 litre of boiling hot water ready in another vessel to replinish the drying syrup.
- Bring the solution to a roaring boil, simmer the flame.
- Add the prepared chenna balls carefully into the hot syrup, increase the flame.
- Cook the chenna balls , undisturbed for initial 10-15 minutes, as they will break if touched. Add boiled water to the boiling syrup if it’s evaporating quickly. We always need abundant syrup so that the balls are freely floating in them all the time while cooking.
- After boiling around 20-25 minutes, check the doneness of the rasgulla.
- Once the rasgullas are all cooked , cool them and serve. I like them warm-hot when they are at their spongy best!
Here’s wishing all my readers a very Happy, Sweet and prosperous New year!!! Live your passion, live your dreams 😊
Similar recipes- Aam Rasmalai ( Cottage Cheese discs dunked in milky mango syrup)
Chenna poda ( Burnt Cheese Cake)