My mother’s friend brought in some rasgullas a day before Dassehra. They were good, in that they were sweet and juicy. But they had a very distinct lemony flavour to them. Also, the sugar syrup they had been dunked in seemed more like sugar dissolved in water, and not sugar syrup really.
The rasgulla experiment had to be attempted. What’s more? Thursday was Dassehra and I was off work. My mother was not going to let this opportunity pass. No. Not at all.
We spoke to the said friend of the mother. She had used a half lime in a litre of milk. And before that, she had boiled the milk twice and then separated the cream from the milk, to remove additional fat content. Her process was a little over a day long. And hah! My mother and I were not prepared (or inclined) to do anything of that sort.
1. Find a technique that takes minimal time.
2. The technique must result in light, fluffy rasgullas with absolutely no hint of lime.
3. Re-work the sugar syrup.
#3 was easy. One part sugar to three parts water. Boil. I knew that when I was fourteen. D-uh! I shouldn’t act like such a snob, I know.
1. Muslin cloth
2. Bunsen burner. Heh. Gas stove.
3. Beaker for milk.
4. Petri-dish for mixing.
Yes, this is the chemistry lab. No, this is not funny any more.
I reached out to the twitterverse for an alternative to using lime. I was considering curd or citric acid (nimboo ke phool, as the baniya around the corner calls it). @kurtbento rightly pointed out that the key to making good rasgullas was the freshly curdled milk. And dahi was never going to help solve that. @Eml_a and him and @tweepolopus and @wastrelette and @fauxfleur (she’s my favourite go-to person, some times) and @saffrontrail and a whole bunch of other people who I’m possibly forgetting and Ma, of course, backed me on the idea of using crystals of citric acid.
My mum is awesome, like that. She suggested minimal incorporation of acidity into the milk by making paneer first. And using the water from the paneer to curdle the milk for the rasgullas. The other important thing here is that low fat milk makes the best kind of rasgullas.
The recipe below is the best of 4 days of trials. Day 1 ranked at #2. Day 2 and Day 3 were at #1. Day 4, was over-ambitious and mildly disastrous. But who cares, we know what works now, don’t we? 🙂
The only not-so-nice part is a point-and-shoot camera (well, errr… my phone) and people who’re eager to get work done rather than take pictures with soiled hands. And no, I’m not complaining. Or am I? Well, I’m just saying there are very few pictures.
1. 1 litre cow’s milk, for the rasgullas
2. 1/2 litre cow/buffalo milk, for the paneer, for anything else you might want to use paneer in
3. 1 packet of citric acid (Here, in Pune, I bought Suprim Citric Acid.)
4. 1 tablespoon all purpose flour (maida)
5. 1 teaspoon baking powder
6. 2 cups sugar
7. 6 cups water
1. Bring the milk(s) to a boil.
2. In the milk for the paneer, add a half packet of the citric acid crystals.
3. The milk begins to curdle and form crumbly paneer. Strain the fat/liquid content out through a muslin cloth and collect the paneer. Leave it aside.
4. The liquid from step 3 is now added to the milk for the rasgullas. Typically, it is acidic enough to do the job. But if the milk doesn’t curdle, feel free to add a pinch of the citric acid crystals.
5. Strain the curdled milk through a muslin cloth. Make sure it is really well drained and there is minimal (to none) moisture content in the rasgulla ‘dough’. (for lack of a better word!)
6. Add the flour and the baking powder to the dough and knead for 10-15 minutes, until it is homogenous and the balls rolled out are smooth. The balls I rolled out were about an inch in diameter. Also, one litre of cow’s milk reduced to a little over a palm-full of rasgulla dough and yielded abut 2 dozen rasgullas.
7. Heat the water and sugar in a pressure cooker (open top), until the sugar melts entirely and the mixture is syrupy (thought not browned).
8. Drop the rasgulla balls into the pressure cooker and cook (with the lid and whistle thingy and all) for three whistles (that should be about 5 minutes).
(Oh, the rasgullas are just about slightly smaller than ping ping balls. Just so you know what to expect)
Day 1: Thursday, October 6th, 2011
Experiment: Pressure-cooked twice – the first time, for one whistle. And then again for two whistles, because the rasgullas didn’t seem fluffed up enough.
Conclusion: Pressure cook just once, for three whistles. That should be optimal.
Day 2: Friday, October 7th, 2011
Experiment: Pressure-cooked once, for three whistles. Also added a crystal of khadi-saakhar to the centre of each rasgulla, while rolling the rasgulla balls out.
Day 3: Saturday,October 8th, 2011
Experiment: Repeat Day 2.
Conclusion: More good deeds done. More rasgullas per head, for the family.
Day 4: Sunday, October 9th, 2011
Experiment: Added more baking powder. Increased the size of the balls. Pressure-cooked once, for three whistles.
Observation: The rasgullas almost disintegrated into the sugar syrup. Like, 10% of the rasgullas disintegrated. But that’s not cool. So, yes. The recipe described above should be used, if at all. No extra baking powder, y’all.