Chhena poda: Roast cheese cake

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Would you be surprised if I tell you that I have never tasted this dessert before. True. The fact that it comes from the province of Orissa, famous for the temple of Lord Jagannath, have always made me curious. I checked a few recipes and gave it a try.

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Traditionally milk is curdled to make the cheese ( chhena), which is then used to make the sweet. I tried it out with Ricotta cheese which is very close to chhena ( chena), in its consistency.

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The fact that the cheese is already available ready made makes this dessert very easy in terms of the time needed. Just assemble all the ingredients and throw it in the oven.

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The result is nothing less than spectacular. Give it a try friends, you may be hooked!

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Recipe: Followed recipe from Saltspicemore.com with some changes

Ingredients;

Ricotta cheese                                           2 cups

Sugar                                                         1 cup

Semolina                                                    4 Tbsp

Ghee                                                         2  Tbsp

Baking powder                                          1/2 tsp

Cardamom powder                                      1/4 tsp

Raisins                                                       1 tbsp

Pistachio slivers                                        1 tbsp

Almond slices                                           1 tbsp

Cashew pieces                                        1 tbsp

Water                                                       2 Tbsp

Method;

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F

In a bowl mix the Cheese, Semolina, Sugar, baking powder, raisins, nuts, ghee nicely. Add a few tbps water bring it to a cake batter consistency. Let it rest for 15 minutes.

Grease the inside of a cake pan and line with a parchment paper. Pour the batter. Bake at 350 degree F preheated oven for 50 minutes, crank up the temperature to 360 degrees for the last twenty minutes..
A tooth pick inserted should come out clean.

Put the oven off.

Take the cake out of the oven then out of the pan. Divide in pieces and enjoy.

Narkel Pakon Pitha ; Coconut and milk cake

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Pithas can be grouped under a dessert category which uses the newly harvested rice or the date palm jaggery. Winter end is the time when these ingredients are available. The ladies of the house usually remain busy whipping up a variety of desserts.

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Small wooden molds are available designed in folk tradition, like flower, conch shell, fish etc items that are abundant in nature. This takes ‘making Pithas’ to a folk art I’d say. In the absence of these delicate molds one can improvise use the back of a glass, cookie cutter or any other design at hand.

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I have used a flower motif here.

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This dessert can be made into a crispy version by adding the sugar into the ingredient before frying or a syrup dunked one by making a sugar syrup and dip them in it for a bit. Some like it crispy others prefer the melt in the mouth version. Take your pick.

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Recipe; Made 18 using 1 tbsp portion each

Ingredients:

Rice flour                                           1 cup

Ground coconut                                1 cup

Milk                                                   1 cup

Cardamom powder                            1/4 tsp

Sugar                                                 1 cup

Water                                                 2 cups

Method;

Make a sugar syrup with the above measurement. The sugar should just melt completely in the water. It doesn’t have to be thick.

Take a saucepan on high heat, add the milk. As soon as it is hot add the coconut powder, cover and cook till it comes to a boil. Crank the heat down. Add the rice flour and give it a nice mix. Throw in the cardamom powder, put the gas off and let it sit that way for 5 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a plate. Knead it into a smooth dough when it still is hot but can be handled. Divide into 18 small portion. Use a mold if you have or shape it as you want and fry them in medium heat till both sides have a light brown colour.

If you are going for the crispy version add about half cup sugar in the dough before frying.

The melt in the mouth version would require these to be dipped in the syrup for 15 minutes. Take them out of the syrup and collect them on a serving plate.