Rasgulla – Elegantly Sweet

The Popular Bengali Sweet Rasgulla

Soft  spongy balls  swimming  in sweet  sugar  syrup aka  Rasgulla,   a  popular   dessert  from the  Indian  subcontinent.   The  spongy balls  are  made  with   ‘chenna’ – or coagulated   milk  solids.  It is a  little  tricky to make,  but once you  master  it is  going  to become  your  go to  dessert!

The Popular Bengali Sweet Rasgulla

Rasgullas trace  its  origins  to the state of Odisha  but is popular  all over  the   region. The  word ‘rasgulla’  originates  from  two Bangla words – ‘rosh’ meaning  juice ‘golla’ meaning sphere shaped.  This Banglar Rasogolla is  known simply as  Rasgulla  in  most part  of  India.  Incidentally  Rasgulla  and  its   cousins  have GI tags  and   the  states  of  West  Bengal and  Odisha  do not  see eye  to  eye  on this  matter.

I am  not  a  big  fan  of  dairy based sweets.  But  the  transformation of  milk into  these  spongy balls   is  fascinating  to me.  So I am  happy to  oblige   when my   family requests  for  one  of these.

My rasgulla  (mis)adventures  began  years  back,  when  a  friend   told  me  that  it  was  her  no fail  easy  quick  dessert  recipe.   The  recipe  looks   easy, but deceptively simple  never  fit  anything  else  better !!  never    Over  the  years  my rasgullas/rosogollas  have  been   all over the  map

  • Too hard
  • Deflated
  • Cracked
  • Too  lemony
  • And  Plain  disgusting !

But I   would  like  to think that  I have mastered  the beast, so to  speak. I haven’t  had  a  mishap in  the  last  3  years  and  I  would  consider that as  a  good  run.

From a  long   list  of   hits  and  missed  one  tends  to learn a  few  things. Here  are a  few …

Type  Of  Milk

Start  with  fresh   milk – not  the  one  that  is  on the  verge  of  expiry.  Often  recipes  ask for  full fat  milk – but  I have  had  good  luck   with  low  fat  milk  as  well.   The  fresher  and less processed  the  milk  is  the  better  the  results  will be. So if  you have   raw  milk  –  by all means  go for  it.   Try  to   stay away from ultra  pasteurized  homogenized  variety, as  these are  heated  and  broken  down  to  the molecular  level.  The  processing  is  meant  to keep the   milk  from  spoiling  and  separating    during  prolonged  storage. These  same  properties   work  against  you   when you  try to separate  the  milk solids  out.

Traditionally  rasgulla, as  many of the  milk based  sweets,   is  made   with  full fat  milk. But  the  low  fat  versions  work  well too.
The Bengali Sweet - Rasgulla

Moisture  Control

The  chenna (fresh cottage  cheese)  needs  to  be  drained  from  whey. Unless  you are  going  for  sour  flavors  rinse  the  drained  chenna  under  water  to remove any trace  of  acidity.  All the  excess  water need  to be   drained  out    as  well.  But  a  dried  out   chenna  will  make  hard  rasgullas.  So squeeze  out  the   excess water  and  let  the  chenna  hang  dry for  about 30 minutes.

If  you  were  making  citrus  flavored  rasgullas  like komolobhog  then     do not  worry  about  rising  out  the  flavors.

Kneading

As  with  moisture ,  the   right  amount of  kneading  is  also important.  The  chenna  needs  to kneaded  just  till it  becomes  lump  free and  uniformly soft.  At  this  stage  the  milk  fat  slowly begin   to  leave the  chenna  and  your  palm   will get  oily.  That  is  the   cue  to stop kneading.   Overworked chenna (too much kneading)   will cause  the  rasgullas  to break apart   while  boiling.

Adding   some  binder  as  in  the  form of  sooji (semolina) or  flour  is  your  choice. Usually these  help absorb  any extra  moisture  and  keep the  cracks  from   getting  bigger.   Definitely avoid  it  if  you  want  to keep it  as a  gluten free  dessert.

Temperature

Rasgullas  are  cooked  in  boiling   sugar  syrup.   Add  the  rasgulla  balls  to the  boiling  sugar  syrup  and  keep  the  liquid  boiling ( fairly  good  amount  of  bubbling )  through out  the  entire  cooking  time.

Size of the Pan

Use a  wide pan to  cook  rasgullas.    These   expand   as  they cook   to  about  double  the  diameter.

 

Sugar  Syrup

I use  the  ratio of  1:4 ,  1  C  sugar  to  4  C  water,   while  making  sugar  syrup.   The  rasgullas  are  sweet   but  not  too sweet ,  definitely not  as sweet as  the  canned  varieties  we  get  from stores.  Increase  the   sugar   content  if  you  need  to.

Once  the  rasgullas  are  cooked  these  can  be  removed   with a  little  liquid  to keep them moist  and the  remaining  sugar   syrup   can be  cooked  down to   your desired  consistency.

Making  large quantities

This  recipe  can be  easily doubled   or  tripled  according  to your  needs.  In  such  cases  boil the  rasgullas  in batches.  Ones   the  balls  are made   keep them   covered  under a  moist  kitchen  towel to prevent  them   from  drying  out.

The  milk to lemon juice   and  water  to  sugar  ratios  remain the  same, but    some  of the sugar  syrup can be  reused over  multiple  batches.

Split  or  Deflated Rasgullas

If  the  rasgullas break apart  while  boiling  these  can  not  be   salvaged – at  least  not  as  rasgullas.  But  these  are  still too delicious  to be  thrown  away. Drain these  and  reserve. Cook down the  sugar  syrup  and  add  evaporated  milk or  unsweetened  condensed milk (or  cook  the  milk  down  to 50%  volume) .    Into this   sweet  liquid  add the  broken pieces,  add aromatic  spices (cardamom powder/ dry ginger/ nutmeg / saffron ) sprinkle  some  toasted  nuts  and  serve as   kheer.

Another  option  is  to  add  the  drained pieces to cake or  tart fillings.

I am  sure   there are  many  other  options.   If  your  ever  find  yourself  in this  situation  and  came  up  with a  creative  solution post a  picture  on  Instagram and  tag  me. Would  love  to hear  about  it.

 

Here  are  the  basic  steps  to making   Rasgulla in pictures

Making The Popular Bengali Sweet Rasgulla

 

The  recipe  for  rasgulla    calls  for a  lot  of  sugar,  but  don’t  be  alarmed  not all that  sugar  will be  consumed.  Rasgulla  needs  to  be  soaked  in  enough sugar  syrup  for  it  to   be  absorbed.   There  will be  a  fair  amount  of  sugar   syrup left  over   which  can be  reused  in  other  desserts.

Here is  recipe  for  making   Rasgullas   from  scratch .

Rasgulla
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
 

Rasgulla  is  a  spongy  syrup based  dessert  popular  in  the  Indian Subcontinent.   Coagulated  milk is  used  to make  the  spongy  balls    which  are   cooked  in  sugar  syrup.    This  is a simple  and  elegant  dessert   fit  for  any table.  

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 15 Pieces
Author: Syama
Ingredients
  • 4 C Cow's Milk Preferably Full Fat
  • 2 - 4 Tbsp Lemon juice Use as required (Notes 2- 4)
  • 1 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
  • 6 C Water
  • 1 Tsp Fine semolina/sooji /AP Flour/corn starch (Optional)
Optional
  • ½ Tsp Cardamom powder
  • Few Saffron Strands
  • 1/2 Tsp Rose Water
Instructions
Curdle the Milk to Make Chenna
  1. Take milk in a pan and heat on medium heat until boiling. Stir the milk occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
  2. While the milk is heating, squeeze the lemon and strain the juice.
  3. Line a large strainer with layers of cheese cloth, muslin or a close weaved cotton cloth.
  4. When the milk has boiled reduce the heat to low. Slowly pour 1 to 2 tbsp of the lemon juice in a thin stream into the boiling milk while stirring the milk continuously. The milk should begin to curdle, if not give a quick stir and repeat the process with more lemon juice until it curdles (Notes 2- 4).

  5. Turn off the heat and pour the curdled milk into the cloth lined strainer. Gather the ends together and rinse the chenna under running water to remove the lemon flavors. Squeeze out as much of the excess water as you can and tie the ends of the cloth to a wooden spoon set n a bowl or the tap over the sink and let the chenna hang dry for 30 minutes. (Note 5)

Prepare Sugar syrup
  1. Just before starting to knead the chenna mix sugar and water in a wide mouthed pan and bring to boil over medium heat. Make sure that the water is at least 3 inches deep or in other words there is enough room for the rasgullas to expand and float and without touching the bottom of the pan.
Make Rasgulla Balls:
  1. Remove the chenna from the cloth and place on a flat plate. Break up the chenna and at this point you should not feel any moisture s ticking to your hands. Using the heel of your hand spread flatten and spread out the chenna. Once it is spread out gather to the center and repeat the process until it becomes smooth. Optionally you can add the binder (sooji/flour - see Note 6) while kneading. Stop kneading once the mix is smooth and your palm begins to feel greasy. About 10 minutes of light kneading is all that is required - but use the feel of the mix as guide rather than the time.

  2. Avoid kneading further as it removes all the fat from the mix and the rasgullas will lose its spongy texture.
  3. Divide the dough into equal portions (10 to 12 ) and form each into a smooth ball. Assume that each ball is going to double in diameter and portion accordingly. Keep the balls covered under a moist kitchen towel. This step is especially important if you are going to be boiling them in batches.
Cook Rasgulla
  1. Slowly slide the rasgullas into the boiling sugar solution. Once all rasgullas are in the pan gently shake the pan to dislodge any that might have accidentally stuck to the side or bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over medium heat (the sugar syrup should keep boiling).
  2. Cook for 15 minutes. Take one rasgulla out of the syrup and gently press with the back of a spoon (or finger if you can handle the heat). If it bounces back to its original shape the rasgulla is cooked. If not cooked return to the syrup and cook for 5 more minutes and test again. Usually 20 minutes is all that it needs , but if the balls are very large you may need to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and remove the resgullas with a little liquid to a bowl. Once all rasgullas are transferred to the bowl pour a few tablespoons of sugar solution over it and keep it covered.
  4. Reduce the remaining sugar syrup to desired consistency – I like to keep it at little thinner than simple syrup. Add cardamom powder of saffron threads or rose water to the syrup at this point. Turn off the heat and let syrup cool a little.
  5. Pour the syrup over the rasgullas and let it soak for 30 minutes. Serve warm or refrigerate for later.
Recipe Notes
  1. If you notice bits of foam on the sugar solution, skim it off.
  2. The acidity of lemon juices vary and it may take anywhere from 1 to 4 tbsps to coagulate the milk.
  3. Curd (Indian style yogurt) , vinegar, or leftover whey water from making rasgullas are also good substitutes for lemon juice.
  4. If using leftover whey or curd there is no need to rinse the chenna under water.
  5. I do not recommend placing heavy weight on the chenna to drain it. Let long the weight might exert excess pressure and change the texture of chenna, where are a few extra minutes of draining while hanging will not change the texture.
  6. When gluten is a  concern  do not add  flour/sooji  when  kneading chenna. If  you must  then  add corn starch. 

Rasgulla syrup made by this method will be a little cloudy as it will have some milk particles in it.

The Bengali Rasgulla

Want  pure  white   Rasgullas   in clear  syrup ?

For  this   cook   the  rasgullas  in a  very thin sugar  syrup say  1: 6   ratio.

In another   pot  prepare  the  sugar  syrup  at   the  ratio of  1: 1  or  1:2   depending  on how  thick you want  the  syrup.   Once  the  syrup has  come   to boil   turn off  the  heat but  keep it  warm .

Afterr the  rasgullas  are  cooked,   drain  each rasgulla  from the  cooking syrup  and  gently slide  into the  prepared  syrup.   Soak  for  at  least  30 minutes.

The Bengali Rasgulla
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