We like it cheesy

Five dishes that hero the hero in our lives — cheese

31 Aug 2021

From the quintessential and very mainstream palak paneer to the lesser-heard of Bengali chhanar dalna (a la cheese curry), cheese has come a long way in the context of diverse Indian cuisine. For those raising a quizzical brow, let us explain. While cheese is largely used in making condiments in the West, down here, we’ve mastered the art and technique to make it into side dishes and even main courses. If you love all things cheesy and dripping in gooey goodness, this list will surely get your attention.

Chhanar dalna

You can make this signature homely dish from West Bengal as decadent with layers of texture and flavour or as basic as you want. This vegetarian dish has fresh homemade cottage cheese as the hero. The chhana or cheese is shaped into balls, fried and tossed into a beautifully flavoured gravy made mostly with tomatoes and spices. Want to get experimental? Toss a few bits of bell pepper and potatoes in there too!

Chhana bhapa

Another one from Bengal, this steamed chhana recipe has a lot of fresh ingredients. You can choose to work with crumbled cheese or cheese cubes. Add mustard paste, curd, poppy seed paste and green chillies to give it a rich, spicy flavour. Just pour it all into a pan and steam. Does it get any easier than this?

Chhanar kalia

Considered a lost gem, this recipe, again from West Bengal, features chhana in a spicy and aromatic gravy that can go as well with rice as with flat breads. The rare addition of chickpea flour or sattu is what gives this dish its edge. The rest is regular spices, mustard, onion, and garlic that are all cooked together in whole spices and ghee to make this beautiful, tasty and layered dish. Try it?

Chhanar rashogolla

And since we’re at it, how could we skip the quintessential rasgullas or rashogollas (as the Bengalis call it)? This recipe requires preparation of chhana from scratch, which involves boiling milk and then adding vinegar or lemon juice until the whey and cottage cheese separates. The chhana is then hung to drain out the excess whey, kneaded into a fine dough, rolled into balls and steamed in sugar syrup to give you the signature Bengali sweet.

Chena Poda

This delicious dessert from Odisha is a cake of sorts which is made by baking cottage cheese. There are many versions available of this dish — along with the regular sugar, milk and chhana, you can also use mango pulp or other fruits of your choice. This one pot cake is traditionally baked in sal leaves, but more modern versions involve banana leaves. Tingle your taste buds a little with this layered sweet delight!

Have some delightful cheese recipes of your own? Let us know.

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regional cuisines Chhana chena Cottage Cheese chhana recipes chena dishes
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