Chanar Jilipi (Cottage Cheese Jalebi)
Now the whole of India loves jalebis , fermented deep fried soaked in syrup ,its crunchy and sweet and delicious but then it is only in Bengal that we have Chanar Jilipi soft and luscious soaked in sugar syrup. To be fair Bengal has its own love affair with ' Chana ' fresh cottage cheese and its other love affair is with sweets. The variety of sweets that you get here amazes everyone.
Makes 8 Jalebis
1 litre full cream milk
1 tbsp to 2 tbsp vinegar diluted with 1 tbsp to 2 tbsp water
3 heaped tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp semolina
A tiny pinch of baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp ghee
Oil for deep-frying
For the syrup :-
1.5 cup sugar
3 cups water
A few drops of lemon juice
3 green cardamom
Start by making the cottage cheese aka 'chena' by first bringing the milk to a roaring boil and then adding the diluted vinegar. You shall see the green whey separate from the white cheese. One must immediately turn down the heat and let the cheese form for about 5 minutes and then switch off the gas and cover the pan and leave it for 5 minutes.
|Before I added the whey|
Now gather the cheese aka 'chena' in a cheese-cloth or muslin cloth and drain it of the whey by hanging it for about 15 minutes or so. Do not throw away the whey.
Now make your dough with the chena , sugar, all purpose flour, baking soda , ghee, 1 tbsp whey and semolina. Your dough must be extremely soft. Kneading the dough on a wooden surface gives the best result.
Once you are done kneading leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes and in the meanwhile start preparing the sugar syrup by bringing the sugar and water to a boil and adding the cardamom and lemon juice and simmering for 5 minutes.
Now give a good kneading to the dough and divide it into 4 equal halves and then make eight balls from these halves and roll out each ball gently but firmly to form a cylindrical shape. When you are forming the cylinders make sure you dip your hands in the why and then mash the balls and form the cylinders , but do it gently because if you put too much of pressure it will leave cracks and now form a 6 with the dough bring the loose end towards the head and press it gently to form the shape.
These must not have any cracks and if the dough doesn't have enough liquid it starts cracking which is why you must dip your fingers in the whey.
Now heat enough oil for deep frying but on low heat. Gently slide the final raw chanar jilipi in the oil and fry it till its a golden reddish colour on both the sides and then soak it in the syrup for 2 hours before serving it.
Very Important tips :-
- You must use full fat milk else the taste is almost always compromised upon
- When you are making the syrup adding the lemon juice prevents crystallization.
- When making the dough if you happen to add even a bit of extra bicarbonate of soda your jilipis will break when you are frying them which is why after forming the dough and having it let it rest you should first shape and fry and in case it spreads out use a bit of flour , say about 2 tbsp flour and knead the dough. This will prevent the rest of the jilipis from cracking and spreading.
- When you are frying the jilipi it must be on low heat at all times. It will take a frustratingly long time but if you increase the heat it will burn or become golden very quickly and the insides will remain raw.