What can be better than sweet spongy Rasgulla ? Sweet and spongy Orange Rasgula – of course !!! Komola Bhog is the orange flavored cousin of the popular Bengali sweet Rasgula. Well I was recently chastised for calling it a Bengali sweet. It is not just popular in Bengal, many neighboring regions lay claim to its origin as well . Now whether I get the pedigree right or not – Rasgulla or Roshogulla is a beautiful desert with huge fan following.
The truth is that even with a few Rasgulla fans in the house, I was clueless about Komola Bhog not so long ago. My relationship with milk based deserts is not very cordial, on the other hand I am a sucker for citrus flavors. Just so you know, I love orange in frozen treats, cakes or just by themselves. Now you know what to get me, if you were ever wondering ;-). Kidding aside citrus has this wonderful ability to brighten up any dish instantly, whether you cook with it or just garnish with it.
So , as you can imagine , the idea of Komola Bhog piqued my interest. But my excitement soon turned into disappointment as I read the recipes – virtually all of them relied on food color and essence for flavor. Colors and additives are things that I generally stay away from. Moreover there are always bags of oranges or lemons in my kitchen. So I made these with fresh oranges and the results were incredible.
All you really need are four ingredients – milk , sugar, water, and oranges. I add a little saffron and cardamom to enhance the flavors, but these are like the icing on the cake. Now if you absolutely must have the deep orange color , add a drop of color, but definitely hold back on the essence.
To me the trick to getting the most flavor out of this recipe is the orange zest. Zest it fine, and make sure that none of the pith (the white portion of the skin) gets in .
As in the case of making fresh rasgulla, you start with boiling the milk and curdling it using an acid , typically lemon juice or vinegar. In this case we use the orange juice, the added advantage is that you do not need to rinse the curds under water to remove the unwanted flavors. When the milk boils add the orange juice and stir well. You will notice the milk curdling. The amount of orange juice needed varies depending on the acidity – for 4 cups of milk it could be anywhere from 1/2 C to 1 C juice. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes to allow the thick curds to form
Place a strainer over a bowl and cover with layers of cheese cloth or a muslin/ cotton towel. Pour the curdled milk over it and let the whey strain out. Gather the ends of the towel and squeeze out as much of the whey as possible.
Let the curds hang dry for 30 minutes. The idea is to let the gravity work its magic . Often times these are hung dry on the kitchen faucet. But this is how I do it. Place a wooden spoon across a deep pot or bowl and tie the cloth containing the curds on it and let it hand dry . Do not let the curds dry for longer than 45 minutes. If you can not make the Komola Bhog immediately , place the cheese in an airtight container for a few hours.
Once the whey is drained, knead the curds well adding a little sooji (semolina) or flour, orange zest, powdered saffron strands and a little fine sugar. Knead until the cheese is smooth, for about 15 minutes. The dough should be smooth and uniform in color by now . Divide into equal sized pieces and form into smooth balls. Keep in mind that these swell up and double in size.
Heat sugar and water in a pan . When it boils add cardamon powder. Slowly place the cheese balls in the boiling sugar syrup. Cover and let it boil for 10 minutes. Boil in sugar syrup. Komolo Bhog would have doubled in size by now. Turn these gently once and let simmer for another 10 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool. When cooled remove Komola bhog from the syrup to a serving container. Pour little syrup over it to keep it moist. Heat the remaining syrup syrup till it thickens and begins to coat the spoon. If you like your syrup very sweet this is the time to add more sugar. Cool and mix with 1 C orange juice. Pour this over the Komola Bhog in the fridge. Return to fridge and chill for a few hours/overnight before serving.
A Few Tips
- Though many recipes ask for full fat milk, I have had most success with low fat milk that is not homogenized.
- Do not let the cheese curds become too dry . If you can not knead and make the Rasgulla/Komola Bhog immediately place the drained cheese in an airtight container for a few hours.
- Do not over work the cheese. Stop kneading as the cheese becomes very smooth and the dough is formed. Once you feel the fat coating your palms stop kneading.
- Keep the sugar syrup boiling while the Rasgulla/Komola Bhog are cooking. Do not reduce the heat to simmer.
- Ensure that the pot used to make Komola Bhog is large enough to hold all the puffed cheese balls.
- There should be enough sugar syrup to cover the komolo Bhog. If that is not the case, change the pan or add more hot sugar syrup.
- There should not be any cracks on the surface of the cheese balls as you place them in the sugar syrup.
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You might like these citrus recipes as well !
Goji Berry Orange Cake – The berries from Himalayas and citrus is a treat for the taste buds
For a cooler version try this
Orange Faloodeh – the Persion ice with Orange Juice . A perfect sweet treat to beat the heat in summer