Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pantua (Bengali Gulab Jamun)

Pantua (Bengali Gulab Jamun) /Ladykeni

There are some desserts which are simply a hot favourite with most people. Its another matter that this particular dessert I am sharing today can be  enjoyed both hot and cold. Its soft, syrupy and delicious

This one is extra special for many reasons but lets start with the one that is closest to my heart. Ever since I have tried conquering most recipes in my kitchen (which mostly give successful results because believe me when I say that cooking is not rocket science , all it needs is patience, good quality ingredients and proper equipment which can range from the properly shaped wok to that baking tray or the butter paper) my best friend Tori has one sentence for almost every time we dine out. Perhaps we are eating a good Danish to which she says , 'you can make this at home' or maybe its a bacon wrapped chicken and the standard statement made is 'you can make this at home'

I love her for her confidence and trust in me and this one is a picky eater (when I say picky I mean she knows her food) Anyway the point is we both love, Pantua the Bengali Gulab Jamun and not just from any shop but 'Putiram' at Amherst street. Truth is I am a complete sweet snob and so there are hardly a few shops which I love and Putiram's pantua is legendary. So one day she told me that I should consider makign Pantuas. This was after my success with Roshogolla.

As usual months went by and I had to come to Mumbai (il be back in Calcutta in notime) and I decided it being the auspicious Durga Puja I shall give Pantuas a try.

Here is the biggest and only difference between Pantua and Gulab Jamun. While Gulab Jamun has Khoya (Reduced dried milk) as its main ingredient , Pantua uses Fresh cottage Cheese 'Chana' along with Khoya .

P.S. One of the famous and oldest sweet shops in Calcutta 'Bhim Nag' renamed Pantuas as Ladykeni in honour of Lord Canning's wife, Lady Canning.

So here goes the recipe Makes 20 to 22 Pantuas


1 litre full cream milk


1 litre full cream milk
1.5 tbsp to 2 tbsp vinegar diluted with 2 tbsp water

For the final dough

The chana
3/4th of the khoya
2 to 4 tbsp all purpose flour
Pinch of bi-carbonate of soda
1 tbsp semolina
3/4th tbsp ghee

Oil for deep frying

For the syrup :

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
4 green cardamom
A fat pinch of saffron soaked in 3 tbsp water

Making Khoya

The final Khoya 

I suggest making the khoya a day ahead of preparation. Bring 1 litre milk to a boil and then simmer stirring every 7 minutes to 10 minutes for the next 45 minutes . By this time your milk would have reduced to a creamy beige colour. Now it is from this time that you must keep stirring continuously else the milk will burn. If you see any sign of burning at the bottom immediately transfer the khoya to a nonstick pan and cook on low flame till it reaches a dry consistency. Once it cools down transfer it to a bowl and store in the refrigerator.

Tips for Khoya

  1. You must make it at low temperature else the bottom of the pan will burn. 
  2. It took me approximately 1 hour 15 minutes for the entire process. 

Making Chana 

The final Khoya and Chena 

The next day bring your khoya to room temperature and in the meanwhile make the Chana by bringing the milk to a roaring boil and then lowering the heat and adding the diluted vinegar. In a few seconds you shall see your chana forming and the colour of the milk turning olive green. Wait for it to completely turn olive oil with floating cheese in it and then switch off the gas and cover and leave for 5 minutes. 

For the final dough 

In my experience and the traditional method the dough reaches its best stage for making sweets if kneaded on a wooden platform. Knead the Chana , Khoya , All purpose flour, Bi-carbonate of soda , sugar and ghee together for a good 10 minutes to 15 minutes till it forms a soft dough. The softer your dough the better your end results. 

Soak the saffron threads in water. 

Dive the dough in 4 equal parts and make 5 smooth balls from each part. You ultimately have 20 balls. 

Now make your sugar syrup by bringing the sugar and water to a boil . Add the green cardamom and simmer for 7 minutes to 10 minutes and add the saffron and boil for a minute and leave it aside in a deep bottom bowl. 

Now heat your oil in a wok and lower the heat to its lowest. Remember this and its very very important, the entire success of your Pantua depends on low flame, if you by chance increase it to medium its bound to burn a little bit on one side. 

Gently fry them on low heat in batches , depending on the size of your wok. It will require a bit of patience but its worth it. When it reaches a deep brown colour on all sides soak them in the sugar syrup. 

Let the pantuas soak a good 2 hours before digging into the soft decadent indulgent sweet.

Here is wishing everyone Happy Festivities. 

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