More than any other festival, it is Diwali (for me and lots of other people too I guess!) that really lights up the whole place. There’s something in the air, lots of preparation, dressing up the home, dressing ourselves up, hitting the kitchen like never before, preparing lots and lots of goodies to eat!
Most workplaces in India too share this enthusiasm and hand across a box of sweetmeats to their employees. For as long as I remember, my dad comes home a day or two before the festival of lights with a Haldiram’s gift hamper (Haldiram’s is a famous sweetmeat and snack brand in India) from office. I used to tear open the package, even though I knew what exactly was in the box – two little packs of Alu Bhujia (potato vermicelli), one big pack of Navratna Mixture, a half kg box of Soan Papdi and a tin of Rasgullas.
Growing up, I wasn’t a big fan of Rasgullas, it was Gulab Jamuns that I really set store by. But I did quite like Rasmalai (rasgulla in saffron-milk) though. Things have changed a lot over the years. I love still love Gulab Jamun. I double love Rasgulla and triple love Rasmalai! And though I’d have loved to be posting about Rasmalai now (and my mouth is watering even as I type this!), what I actually ended up making is Rasgullas, with a twist though!
I’d never have thought these could be made at home, let alone the fact that I’d be making them one day too! Browsing through posts of fellow Blogging Marathon buddies, I saw a few Bengali dishes and sweets and I was kicked enough to try something out too. Just that after I’d prepared the paneer, and set to making the sugar syrup for the Rasgulla, I realised I did not have enough sugar! I just had a little over ½ cup, while you’d need 1-1 ½ cups. Not wanting to stop what had been started, I went ahead and added the ¼ cup of Demerara sugar (unpolished cane sugar) that I had on hand. This resulted in a honey-coloured syrup (that hubby didn’t quite approve of) and less sweet, light brown coloured rasgullas (that hubby loved).
They were soft and, quite frankly, looked pretty (and were pretty tasty, for the record) in the honey-coloured syrup. But the best part was getting MIL’s nod for making this for Diwali – with the regular sugar syrup though! We have both been trying new recipes (new for us!) for the last one week and we’ve come up with some interesting stuff. I’ll be putting them up on the blog over the next few days. For starters, here’s this
Stuffed Rasgulla with Demerara Sugar
(Makes 9 big Rasgullas)
Milk – 1 litre (I used toned)
Vinegar – 2 tsp (you use lime juice too)
Sugar – 1 ½ cups
Water – 3-4 cups
Green cardamom – 2 pods
Saffron – a few strands soaked in a tsp of milk and pinched between thumb and forefinger to release colour and aroma
Raisins and chopped nuts for stuffing – optional
Bring milk to a boil and add vinegar. Mix well and remove from heat
The milk will curdle. Let the whey separate
Strain it in a strainer lined with cheese cloth or thin muslin or cotton cloth
Run clean water over the cheese to remove the sour taste from the vinegar/lime
Bring the ends of the cloth together and squeeze any extra water
Keep the cheese wrapped in the cloth for up to an hour (I left it for 45 minutes)
Add saffron and milk to the cheese and knead well till it becomes soft and mushy
Pinch out balls of whatever size you like, but remember they puff up to almost double the size. I wanted medium sized Rasgullas and rolled them into rounded ½ tbsp sized balls (approximately) but ended up with quite large Rasgullas. I also stuffed two raisins in each ball, this is optional though
Heat water in a large and deep, heavy bottomed pan. The Rasgullas need enough space to swim around
Add sugar and stir till it dissolves. Mark little nicks on the cardamom so it releases flavour and add to the liquid
Let the mixture boil till it becomes somewhat thicker and syrupy
Drop the rasgullas gently, one by one, into the sugar water
Boil on high heat for 15-20 minutes. You can add more water if it becomes too syrupy
Remove from heat and let cool
Decorate with saffron strands and chopped nuts and serve