Chhanar Dalna (with a Twist)

Disclaimer: As the title suggests, this is a variation on the classic Bengali ‘niramish’ Chhanar Dalna. Read on to find out how… 🙂

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Now, as I’ve probably mentioned a zillion times, being a ‘probashi Bangali’, or a Bengali who has grown up outside Bengal, our eating habits have always been very varied. For one, my Dad who’s a Delhi ‘boy’, has an eternal love for ‘Dal Roti Sabzi’, while my Mom’s cooking is heavily influenced by her aunts; a little bit of Punjabi, a little Gujarati and a lot of Burmese cuisine.

So it’s not surprising that I’ve not grown up eating several ‘traditional’ Bengali dishes, especially this one. (For instance, the ‘Macher Jhal’ in our family is a Burmese inspired dish made with loaaads of garlic, some onion and tomatoes and lots of chopped coriander.)

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Chhanar Dalna (often called Chhanar Kofta Curry) is a traditional Bengali preparation. It is niramish, or pure veg, made without onion or garlic, and is most often served at functions that call for pure vegetarian meals. Chhana/Chana or Chenna is the base of almost every Bengali sweet, and is made in almost every Bengali household; these days the store-bought paneer finds more popularity, though they cannot be compared. Homemade chhana has a delicate flavour that cannot be replaced by paneer.

The first time I ate Chhanar Dalna was at a ‘shraddh’ ceremony of a family member, and fell in love with it. The dish can also be made by shaping the chhana into blocks, and making cubed (like paneer), but I prefer the ‘kofta’ way. My version is a different take on this traditional Bengali dish.

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The ‘twist’ in this comes from…Coconut. I have a lot of coconuts at home, sent by my Pishi (paternal aunt), and what better way to use them than this? The koftas have a healthy dose of shredded coconut in them, and a little raisin stuffed in the middle, just for fun 😛 Apart from that, I have also added a tbsp of coconut in the gravy….. so there, you have it…Chhana Dalna with a twist.

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We usually make our own Chhana at home by curdling milk; a liter of full-fat milk (Amul Gold) yields about 400 gm of chhana here, but you would probably get different results with different milk brands/quality.

Chhanar Dalna (with a twist)

Ingredients:

For the Chhana:

  • Full-fat milk – 1/2 ltr or 500 ml
  • Lemon juice/Vinegar – a tbsp approx

For the Koftas:

  • Chhana/Paneer – 100 gms
  • Coconut – 100 gms (shredded/grated)
  • Maida – 2 tbsp 
  • Raisins – 1 for each kofta
  • Salt – to taste

For the gravy:

  • Potatoes – 1 large or 2 small, cubed
  • Tomatoes – 2 medium
  • Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
  • Green chilies – 2
  • Coconut – 1 tbsp, grated
  • Bay leaves – 2
  • Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Sugar – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder – 1 tsp
  • Mustard oil – for cooking
  • Ghee – 1 tsp

Method:

  1. Make a paste of the chopped tomatoes, green chilies and ginger. Keep aside.
  2. Heat the milk in a deep-bottomed vessel, and let it come to a rolling boil.
  3. Once you see bubbles on the surface, add the lemon juice/vinegar, and let the milk curdle without reducing the flame. This might take 4 to 7 mins.
  4. Once the milk curdles and the cheese curds separate from the whey, turn off heat and strain it through a thin strainer.
  5. Let most of the whey drain out, and then, transfer into a cheese cloth and secure the ends well.
  6. Place a heavy object on top of the tied-up chhana, and keep aside for an hour or 30 mins.
  7. After a bit, untie the chhana from the cheese cloth and transfer on to a plate.
  8. Knead the chhana well, until smooth. To this, add the grated coconut, and maida, and mix well.
  9. Add salt (remember the gravy will have salt) accordingly, and make small round and flat shaped koftas, stuffing a raisin in the middle of each one.
  10. Repeat process and make same-sized koftas with the remaining dough. 
  11. Heat a shallow-pan with some ghee/oil, and let it heat up.
  12. Drop the koftas one by one, frying them on low heat, turning over when one side turns golden, until they’re evenly browned, and fried. (These are deep-fried usually, but I prefer shallow-frying).
  13. Now, and add mustard oil in the same pan. When it smokes, add the bay leaves and cumin seeds, letting them crackle.
  14. Now, add the potatoes, and turmeric. Fry potatoes until they’re well-browned.
  15. To this, add the tomato, chili and ginger paste. Add the dry masalas, and saute well on a medium-high heat until the masala changes colour and begins to coat the potatoes.
  16. Add the grated coconut, mix well, and add the sugar. Cover the pan for 4 to 6 mins, until potatoes have softened.
  17. Now, add the koftas and once again, mix well. 
  18. Pour in a cup full of water, and cover pan, letting the koftas simmer in the gravy and soak up the masalas.
  19. After 5 mins or so, uncover pan, check seasonings, and gravy consistency. Gravy should be slightly thin, as the koftas will soak up some gravy.
  20. Turn off heat, garnish with ghee, and serve hot with rice, or rotis.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Ritu says:

    I need to cook this today

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😀 Yay! Do try, and let me know whether you liked it or not aunty… ❤

      Like

  2. Thehungryballer says:

    *sigh* if only I had this right in front of me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha.. if you come to Kolkata, let me know.. I’ll bring it for you 😀

      Like

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