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.
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.
While the milk is heating, squeeze the lemon and strain the juice.
Line a large strainer with layers of cheese cloth, muslin or a close weaved cotton cloth.
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).
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
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:
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.
Avoid kneading further as it removes all the fat from the mix and the rasgullas will lose its spongy texture.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Pour the syrup over the rasgullas and let it soak for 30 minutes. Serve warm or refrigerate for later.
If you notice bits of foam on the sugar solution, skim it off.
The acidity of lemon juices vary and it may take anywhere from 1 to 4 tbsps to coagulate the milk.
Curd (Indian style yogurt) , vinegar, or leftover whey water from making rasgullas are also good substitutes for lemon juice.
If using leftover whey or curd there is no need to rinse the chenna under water.
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.
When gluten is a concern do not add flour/sooji when kneading chenna. If you must then add corn starch.
For detailed instructions go to https://oventales.com/rasgulla/ .