On a hot summer afternoon, Maa just put a pan full of milk on the stove top to let it boil. Soon after Maa literally screamed in anguish “issh, sob dudh fete gelo…bhebechilam payesh banabo…sob dudh fete gelo” (thought of making rice pudding today but alas, the milk got curdled). This sometimes happen during summer. You just want to boil the milk and it gets curdled. Maa gets annoyed very easily when these things happen. She went on saying “dhur ajker ranna o sesh, chhana ta rekhe dei, kalke chhanar dalna baniye nebo” (I done with the day’s cooking. I will better keep the chhana today and tomorrow I will make Chhanar Dalna). Pishimoni smiled and said “chhana ta amake dao, ami bacchader jonne mishti baniye debo” (give the cheese to make, I will make sweets for the kids). Maa replied “issh tumio paro, tomar shotti dhorjo ache go” (you truly have patience).
Hearing of mishti (sweet), the next scene was me and my sister running after Pishimoni and poking her “chhana diye ki banabe?” (what will you prepare with the cheese). Pishimoni smiled at us and said “chhanar jilapi khabi? khele baniye debo” (will you eat chhanar jilapi? if yes, I will make it for you). We both the sisters were like “ha khabo, ha khabo…ekhoni banao” (yes yes…make now only). Pishimoni set with the cheese and started kneading it with other required ingredients and said “bhalokore dekhe shikhe nao, boro hole nije banate parbe” (see how I make it and learn properly…you can make by yourself when you grow up). Both of us set in front of her and started observing the process very minutely. Honestly speaking, we were not that much into learning, but, waiting her to finish early so that we can start gulping 😛
After that day, this sweet often used to be on our demand list whenever we used to visit Pishimoni’s place or she used to come over. We often used to finish it in one go. Maa is not that much into sweets, but, Baba used to accompany us. Time passed by and we grew up. Pishimoni is no more. I sometime make Chhanar Jilapi and whenever I do, I remember Pishimoni. She was a magician with God gifted culinary skills. Baba often say that I make better sweets than Maa and I have the traits of Pishimoni in me. Whatever I have learned from Pishimoni, I treasure everything close to my heart.
Coming to Chhanar Jilapi, this is a traditional Bengali sweet which is made of cottage cheese. This is a deep fried, melt-in-mouth cottage cheese knot that gets its sweet taste after being immersed in a runny sugar syrup. It can be served both hot and cold, though, hot is always what I prefer. With very few ingredients, this sweet tastes heavenly and is not that tough to make.
Bengali New Year aka Poila Boishakh is arriving and like many other Bengali houses, my house decked up with new decorations and my kitchen with some sweets and non vegetarian preparations. Today I made Chhanar Jilapi for some friends who came over. This is definitely going to be on my Poila Boishakh party menu as well. Here’s the recipe for you all.
- 1 litre full fat milk
- 3 table-spoon lemon juice
- 2 table-spoon maida (all purpose flour)
- 1 table-spoon sooji (samolina)
- 1/2 tea-spoon baking powder
- 2 pinch salt
- 1 pinch saffron soaked in 1 table-spoon warm milk
- 2 cup sugar
- 3.5 cup water
- as required oil or ghee for deep frying (you can mix both in equal proportion)
Making Chhana (cottage cheese)
- In a pan, heat the milk and bring it to boil. Turn off the flame.
- Immediately, add lime juice and mix. You will observe that water starts separating from the fat. Your Chhana (cottage cheese) is done. Let it cool down.
- Drain the water to get the chhana. Pour the chhana on a cotton cloth and squeeze to drain the excess water.
- To completely drain the water away, tie the cloth and hand for atleast 1 hour.
Making Chhanae Jilapi
- Take the chhana in a mixing bowl and knead to a soft and smooth dough.
- Now, add maida, baking powder, sooji, salt and the saffron soaked milk. Knead the entire thing properly for 10-15 minutes to a soft and smooth dough. Once it does not stick to your hand, the dough is ready.
- Remember, kneading is the key. The more you knead, the more soft and smooth your jilapi will be. Once
- Cover the dough with a cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom pan, heat water and add sugar. Heat it constantly in high flame until the sugar gets dissolved, water gets reduced and the syrup comes to 1 string.
- Once the syrup is done, keep it aside and let it cool down a little bit.
- Now, take the chhana dough and cut small balls from it. The given quantity of ingredients should give you 7-8 pieces of jilapi.
- With the help of your palm, roll out long ropes out of the chhana balls and swirl them in circular jilapi (jalebi) pattern.
- Now, heat oil ghee (or both mixed together) in a pan and deep fry the jilapis until they turn reddish brown.
- Pour the hot jilapis immediately to the syrup once they are fried.
- Soak the jilapis in syrup for atleast and hour or so. Your Chhanar Jilapi is ready to be served.
You can consume them immediately or can store them in refrigerator for 2-3 days. But, Chhanar Jilapi always tastes when served hot.
Enjoy this authentic Bengali delicacy and do drop me a comment giving your feedback about this recipe. You can also tag me on Instagram using the handle @when_a_bong_cooks.