Friday, April 22, 2016

Chanar dalna...

Chanar dalna is a popular Bengali delicacy. It is made from homemade cottage cheese or Chana. This delicious curry is prepared without using any onion and garlic, for that this is often made during auspicious occasions like puja when eating non-vegetarian food including onion garlic is prohibited. I do not need any special occasion to make this curry. My daughter loves this and I often make this for her. While making this for regular family lunch or dinner I keep the curry simple, but to celebrate a special occasions and entertaining guests I add almond and cashew nut paste to the curry and that makes the gravy extra special, thick, creamy and finger licking good. I also add cubed potatoes to the curry, as no curry is complete for a Bong sans the potato. When fresh green peas are in season I also like to add a handful of green peas to the chanar dalna.

As one need freshly made cottage cheese or chana for this curry, the process may sound long and time consuming. But once you taste the melt in mouth soft cottage cheese balls you will agree to the humdrum procedure.

The first step is to curdled the milk using lime juice or vinegar. Make sure to use whole milk or full fat milk. The curdled milk is then strained and round dumplings are made from the fresh cottage cheese. Instead of making dumplings the cottage cheese can be cut into square, rectangular or triangular pieces. The dumplings are then deep fried in oil. The fried dumplings are dunked into a simple tomato based gravy. This gravy is made without onion or garlic.

Use a strainer and cheese cloth to collect the curdled milk. Do not throw away the whey, it is full of nutrition and can be used to make dough for bread, roti, naan etc. The whey can be stored for few days in the refrigerator. After collecting the curdled milk hold it in the cheese cloth and wash it under cold water. This helps to wash out the smell of lime or vinegar used for curdling the milk.

Leave the washed curdled milk wrapped in the cheese cloth on the strainer to drain out excess water. This way you can make cottage cheese at home. Cottage cheese is very healthy and easy to digest. There are hundreds of ways to use the cottage cheese. One can simply spread it over toasted breads along with honey (for sweet version) or fresh herbs, salt, black pepper (for savory version).

For this particular recipe the cottage cheese needs to be kneaded till smooth. The best way to do that is to use the heel of the palm. After kneading the cheese equal size balls are made. Traditionally flattened round balls are made, but one can use their imagination and shape them as they like.

The cheese balls are fried in oil till brown. I also add cubed potato to the curry, this is optional.

Things needed to make Chanar Dalna:

(Serves 4)

To make cottage cheese:

  • Whole milk: 2 lts
  • Lime juice: 3-4 tbsp
  • special equipment: strainer, cheese cloth

To make the cottage cheese dumplings:

  • Homemade cottage cheese: 2 cups
  • Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar: 2 tbsp
  • Baking powder: 1 tsp
  • Oil to deep fry

To make the gravy:

  • Green cardamom: 2-3
  • Clove: 2-3
  • Cinnamon: 1 inch stick
  • Bay leaves: 2
  • Dry red chili: 3-4
  • Cumin: 1 tsp
  • Tomato : 1 large
  • Yogurt: 3-4 tbsp
  • Ginger paste: 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Ghee or clarified butter: 1-2 tsp
  • Almond and cashew nut paste: 2 tbsp (optional)
  • Potato: 1 (optional)
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Vegetable oil to cook

Steps of making Chanar Dalna:

To make cottage cheese or chana:

1. Boil milk in a heavy bottom pan. As the milk rolls to boil reduce heat and add lime juice or vinegar, stir. The milk will curdle and whey will separate.

2. Strain the curdled milk and collect the cottage cheese in a cheese cloth. Wrap the cheese cloth around the cottage cheese and wash the cheese under cold water.

3. Place the cheese on a strainer to drain out excess water.

To make the cottage cheese dumplings:

1. Knead the cottage cheese or chana well, till no lumps. Add salt, sugar, cardamom powder and baking powder, mix well and make equal size balls. From 2 cups of cottage cheese 16-18 balls can be made.

2. Heat oil in a pan, fry the cottage cheese till evenly brown. Take out and keep aside. Any vegetable oil can be used.

3. If adding potatoes to the curry, peel the potato and cut into cubes. Fry the potato cubes and keep aside.

To make the curry:

1. In a pan or kadhai heat 3 tbsp oil. When the oil is hot add, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, bay leaves, dry red chili, cumin seeds. As the spices release a nice aroma add ginger paste and finely chopped tomato. Cover and cook over low heat till the tomato is done.

2. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, kashmiri red chili powder, mix well and cook for 1 min. Add yogurt, mix well. Cover and cook till oil separates. Add warm water, salt, sugar. let the gravy boil. If adding potatoes, add the fried potatoes at this stage, cover and cook till the potatoes are almost done.

3. Add the almond and cashew nut paste (if using). Cover and cook for 5 min. Add the fried cottage cheese balls, garam masala powder, ghee or clarified butter. Switch off the heat. Cover the curry and let it rest for 10 min. Serve hot with pulao, roti, luchi etc.

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1 comment:

  1. Love ছানার ডালনা। The recipe is perfect!