Baked Cottage Cheese Cake or Chhena Poda – a regional delicacy

As a Holi special dessert,I let go of the usual gujiyas and instead took a trip to my native land,
Orissa – the land of temples…and golden beaches..of green paddy fields and clear blue skies..of humble,sincere people and rich art..of the mesmerising mudras of Odissi and the brilliant strokes of Pattachitra..the land of Ikat and myriad weaves…
 
Regional dessert Chhena Poda
 
Do you know about Holi?? No.. ?? 
Hi there ladies at Fiesta Friday..  Let me give you a look into Holi…. and i bring this easy and delicious,steeped in nostalgia and longing dessert as a special weekend treat! There is nothing to be afraid of in making Indian mithais…and this is just a small but delicious example of it!
 
Let me just say that it is a magical day..Its like living in a techni-colored 3D show where everything is so colorful it almost hurts your eyes. Imagine red and yellow colored cloud being thrown in front of you and colliding with a vivid blue cloud…now imagine that cloud turning green in front of your very eyes! Where else can you see such color magic happen if not in India during Holi!??
Just like Amitabh Bachhan crooning “Rang Barse bheegey chunar wale” and drinking bhang is etched forever in our city-bred minds with the image of Holi, the real essence of Holi is remarkably marked with other deeper things.
 
 
While you and I shake our booty to some latest tracks from Bollywood, clad in our aviator designer shades and silk scarfs, afraid of the colors and its chemicals, some others immerse themselves in the gulaal. Everywhere you see, there will be a new colorful story unfolding..
 
 
Somewhere it’s the children doing what they do best, being children as they enjoy the festival whole heartedly..and at other places it will be the soulful singing at the Radha Raman mandir that will enthrall you and take you to a parallel universe. You can see it in the mystical chanting of Krishna’s name by the throng of worshippers..and in the slow rhythmic dancing to the bhajans sung all week long. You will witness it in the drenched and heavily gulalled (colored) visitors..and the colorful festooned roofs of the temples. Its present in the electrifying temple precincts and the blissful lone man lost in the throes of bhang..in the craziness of the sheer amount of fervor and gaiety that grips the spirit of these people..the devotion that comes with the territory of heartfelt belief and faith..the utter surrender to the lord..the chanting of Radhe Radhe that can have a hypnotizing effect on the people..the official roving pichkari spouting colored water on the audience as a final offering of blessing..the water laden rose garlands thrown into the air by the priests and the ecstasy and beyond as you witness the Aarti..The ultimate Salvation or Moksha achieved!
 
 
Yes, Holi is a powerful feeling..not just a celebration of color. Its a celebration of the human spirit. And somehow for this year’s Holi, I missed my home..my parents..my siblings and I ended up using some home made cottage cheese to make one of our all time favorite sweets. 
The Chhena Poda.. (Baked cottage cheese cake).
 
RECIPE:
 
Ingredients: 
  • Home made cottage cheese 1/2 kg
  • Semolina 2-3 tablespoon 
  • Sugar 1/2 cup
  • Grated jaggery 1/2 cup
  • Condensed milk 2 tablespoon
  • Ghee 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom powder 1 teaspoon
  • Saffron few strands
  • Rose petals, rose essence1/2 teaspoon
  • Pistachio slivers
  • Raisins
  • Sugar 1/2 cup for caramel
Method :
  • Start by making the cottage cheese. Boil 1l of milk, add some lemon juice to it, let it curdle. Boil on sim for 5 mins. Turn off the flame. Wash thoroughly under water till the lemon smell and taste goes. Taste before proceeding. 
  • Next, add the cottage cheese(completely drained of any whey) ,semolina, sugar, jaggery in to a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly by hand till the sugar and jaggery is incorporated. Then add the ghee and the condensed milk and stir with a spoon to ensure its all mixed well. Add the cardamom powder and Rose essence, 1 tsp of saffron soaked milk and mix again. Taste and adjust sweetness.
  • If you prefer less sweet, then use lesser sugar than mentioned above ( we are a family of ants, and love it on the sweeter side) wink emoticon
  • Next make some caramel by heating sugar in a non stick sauce pan…don’t be tempted to move it..leave it in the pan and it will start melting. Once the edges start browning, you can shake the pan a little to ensure there is even caramelisation. Don’t let it burn!
  • Take it off the flame..wait for a min and then pour 1/2 cup water..it should be a liquid pourable consistency. ( if the caramel sticks, just put it back on the flame for 30 secs, it will melt immd).
  • Now, lightly grease a baking mould with some ghee.
  • Make sure the oven is preheated at 180c.
  • Pour 1/3 of the caramel sauce into the bottom of the mould. 
  • Pour the batter over the caramel.
  • Now drizzle or rather pour the remaining caramel over the batter. Ensure it covers the top and the sides somewhat too.
  • Plop it into the oven and bake for an hour or 50 mins…Don’t worry about the caramel turning brown or black…it supposed to be poda or burnt…but it won’t taste burnt!
    The centre will be smooth and springy…and the caramel will do a,axing things to your senses.
 

Notes:

  • Make sure the caramel isn’t burnt while making it.
  • You can leave out the condensed milk.
  • Many people find it easier to blend the batter but that will provide a rather smooth texture as compared to the grainy texture of the actual Chenaa poda. 
  • Mix the raisins while mixing the batter if desired.
  • You can always leave out the saffron and rose water.these are my own additions to the classic Chenaa poda, and not necessary.
  • Serve cold or at room temp, garnished with pistachio slivers and rose petals if desired.
Love,
S 🙂 

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