Chhanar Dalna (Bengali style ‘homemade paneer / cottage cheese’)


This is a part of the series ……. For the Chef in u

Contributed by YUMMRAJ’s favourite Chef ANONYMOUS
Super easy to make & Super good to eat……………

Chhanar Dalna – Bengali style home made paneer / cottage cheese

Historically curdling of milk was not considered to be good generally in India & particularly in Bengal. With the advent of the Portuguese in mid 1600s, came the cottage cheese & it is from there that the Bengali cooks learnt the use of chhana (paneer) for cooking as well as for making sweets.

Chhanar dalna is a homemade cottage cheese & potato curry.

For making the chhana, boil 2 liters of full cream milk. When it comes to a boil, add juice of 3 whole lemon. The milk curdles. Take a muslin cloth, place it over a large vessel. Pour the curdled milk over the muslin to separate the chhana (cottage cheese) from whey.

Discard the whey & tie the muslin cloth to a potli (see picture). Hang it for 2-3 hours from a height so that the excess whey drains out.

From here , there are two methods –

Method 1: What I have inherited from my family.

Method 2: Experimented as advised by Paromita Dey

Draining the whey by hanging it from a muslin cloth

Method1:

Place the potli on a flat surface & put something heavy on the top for 30 minutes to flatten the Chhana.

Flattening the chhana

Take out the chhana from the cloth carefully & place on a cutting board.

The lump of chhana on a cutting board

Use a sharp knife to cut the chhana chunk into pieces. If u use a blunt knife, the chhana might break / become uneven.

the chhana cut into pieces

Fry the chhana pieces in 1 tablespoon oil on slow fire till they start getting golden brown.

At this stage just pop a piece of fried chhana in ur mouth – it wud be softer, tastier & much more flavorful than any paneer that u buy from the market – that is why u took all the pain to make the chhana all this while. Infact, if u press the chhana at this stage, ur fingers will almost touch as the pieces are soft beyond expectation.

The fried chhana pieces

Method 2:

After the whey has drained off & the chhana is at room temperature, crumble it with hand. Add 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste, 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder,  1/4 teaspoon garam masala paste & 1/4 cup besan. Add red chilly powder & salt to taste.

Mix them properly & make these into lemon sized balls.

Making the mixture into lemon sized balls
Making the mixture into lemon sized balls

Fry these on low fire till Golden brown.

Chhana balls golden fried
Chhana balls golden fried

From here on, the steps are common for both method 1 & method 2.

In the remaining oil (left after frying the chhana) add ½ teaspoon of whole jeera (cumin) seeds. Cut two potatoes into cubes. Add cubed potatoes when the jeera seeds start to crackle. Fry till golden brown.

Mix together 1 teaspoon ginger paste, 1 teaspoon Jeera powder, ½ teaspoon haldi (turmeric) powder & ½ teaspoon of red chilli powder. Add 1 tablespoon water & make it into a paste.

Add this paste to the kadhai (wok) in which the potatoes are being fried. Fry the masala paste & potato till oil separates.

frying the potatoes in the masala

Add 2 cups water & bring it to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer till the potatoes are done.

Simmer till the potatoes r done

Add the fried chhana pieces & salt to ur taste. Add 1 teaspoon sugar to get the authentic taste. U may avoid this step if u do not like sweetened curry. Let this simmer for 5 minutes.

Adding the fried chhana pieces towards the end

Add ½ teaspoon garam masala paste, mix well & simmer for another 2 minutes…………………… & u r ready with Chhanar dalna.

Enjoy this with steamed rice / pulao / luchi. The chhana pieces taste best within 15 minutes of cooking the dish. If possible, plan that way. Else make sure u heat & eat.

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3 comments

  1. Hi,

    I had posted a reply to this a while ago but it seems that did not get posted.

    Loved reading your food write-ups. You are truly The Foodie !!!

    Just one comment. In chhanar dalna, chhana/panner is not drained to the extent to cut it into pieces in fact it is not cut in pieces but mixed with little maida or sometimes a little chana dal paste is added to give it some binding, salt is added and sometimes red chili powder or even jeera powder may be added. Then this mixture is mixed well and given shape like bora and deep fried in low heat till golden brown. Also normally in Bengali cooking the veges would be fried first and picked up from the oil and then the dry masala is sauteed and masala paste is added and sauteed, water is added to prepare the gravy and then the bara and the fried potatoes would be added. This is brought to a boil and garam masala paste, ghee, little sugar would be added.

    Thanks for sharing your blog link in Tripadvisor. I was a bit surprised and very impressed by that fact that you visited Eau Chaw and wrote about it in Tripadvisor. It is such a nondescript restaurant in Kolkata that even many Calcuttans do not know about it.

    Regards,

    Paromita

    1. Hi Paromita,
      Thanks for reading my blog – I actually have tried many interesting places in the past as well – even before I started blogging. Waiting to go back to some of those places & updating more.

      Pls keep updated with newer posts at:
      http://www.facebook.com/pages/Yummraj/257363547631763

      Thanks

      YUMMRAJ

      Reply from Guest Blogger ANONYMOUS who wrote the post:

      Hi,
      Thanks for reading the post & writing the long comment. Every family has its own version of any dish & this version is something that runs in my family. I learnt it from my mother.

      However, I will surely try out the version suggested by you (which may be the more popular version) & update the post with pics & the new recipe.

      Regards

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