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……………
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
Place the potli on a flat surface & put something heavy on the top for 30 minutes to flatten the Chhana.
Take out the chhana from the cloth carefully & place 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.
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.
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.
Fry these on low fire till Golden brown.
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.
Add 2 cups water & bring it to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer till the potatoes are 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.
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.