Chhena Poda | Baked Cottage Cheese (Paneer) Cake from Odisha

My list of recipes to try is a mile long and seems to get longer by the day as I discover new cuisines and dishes. In recent times, Odia cuisine has caught my interest and I am now determined to explore this culinary tradition. So here comes the recipe for Chhena Poda, a baked cottage cheese cake from the beautiful state of Odisha.

Chhena Poda | Odia Baked Cottage Cheese Cake
Chhena Poda | Odia Baked Cottage Cheese Cake

I have been meaning to try Chhena Poda for the longest time and got the impetus this month with the Recipe Swap Challenge where I was paired with the warm Sujata Roy. In this challenge, we try recipes from each other’s blogs and for me it was very tough to choose a recipe from Sujata’s lovely blog called Batter Up with Sujata. I started with Rosogulla, then I thought of Mango Sandesh, then Bengali Pulao, then of Chapor…..

As you can see, I quite tied myself up in knots before settling for her recipe for Chhena Poda and telling myself to stop vacillating so much. 😀 😀 After all, no one said I cannot try more recipes from Sujata’s blog later.

Chhena Poda turned out so easy to make and so decadent that it made for a perfect return gift for my friend Hetal who treated me to some homemade Keri no Chundo and Churros with Ice Cream recently.

I made the Chhena Poda in a muffin tray because I did not have a small 6″ baking pan and the 8″ and 9″ pans were too large. I did consider baking it in Bundt Pan but finally settled for a muffin tray. I am glad I did because the mini-Chhena Podas were so cute and easy to serve.

Chena Poda | Odia Baked Cheese Cake
Chena Poda | Odia Baked Cheese Cake

Recipe for Chhena Poda |Baked Cottage Cheese Cake from Odisha

Chhena Poda | Baked Cottage Cheese (Paneer) Cake from Odisha
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Resting Time
15 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

This is the recipe for Chhena Poda, a baked cottage cheese cake from the beautiful state of Odisha that is situated on the eats coast of India. Odia cuisine is replete with sweets (and savoury dishes) made from Chhena, which is freshly made paneer and this recipe for Chhena Poda is just a classic example.

Course: Dessert, Sweet
Cuisine: Indian, Odia, Odisha
Keyword: Baked Cottage Cheese Cake, Baked Paneer Cake, Chena Poda, Chhena Poda
Servings: 6 People
Author: Aruna
Ingredients
  • 300 gms Freshly Made Chhena (Paneer) (See detailed instructions in the tutorial)
  • 1 tbsp Rava, Semolina
  • 4 to 5 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cardamom Powder
  • 1 tbsp Cashew Pieces
  • 1 tbsp Raisins
  • 3 tbsp Ghee
  • 3 to 4 tbsp Milk
Other Ingredients
  • 4 tsp Sugar (for caramel)
  • 1 tsp Ghee (for greasing)
Equipment
  • 6" Baking Mould (See Notes)
Instructions
The Preparations
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

  2. Grease the baking mould with ghee and spread 4 tbsp sugar as an even layer at the bottom. Use more sugar, if needed.

  3. Place the tray in the oven and let the sugar caramalise and form a golden brown layer. Took about 8 minutes.

  4. Remove the tray from the oven and let the caramel harden. 

  5. Fry the cashews and raisins in 1 tbsp ghee till they are golden brown and set aside.

Making the Chhena Poda Batter
  1. Crumble the paneer and mash it a bit. Do not knead it to a smooth consistency. It should be grainy.

  2. Add the cardamom powder, ghee, fried dry fruits, sugar, semolina and 2 tbsp milk.

  3. Mix well.

  4. Add more milk, as need, and mix till you get a batter of dropping consistency.

  5. Fill the baking mould with the batter and spread evenly. Ensure that the dry fruits are not on the surface as they will char while baking.

  6. Bake at 180C for 25 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean.

  7. Take the tray out of the oven and let it cool a bit.

  8. If needed, use a sharp knife to loosen the edges of the Chhena Poda.

  9. Gently flip the baking tray to unmould the Chhena Poda.

  10. Serve warm

Recipe Notes

I used a 9", 6-slot muffin tray as I did not have a 6" baking mould.

 

Chena Poda | Baked Paneer Cake from Orissa
Chena Poda | Baked Paneer Cake from Orissa

How to Make Odia Chhena Poda | Baked Paneer Cake

  1. Making the Chhena
    1. Dilute 2 tbsp lemon juice with 4 tbsp water.
    2. Bring 2 litres of milk to a boil.
    3. Turn off the heat and wait for 2 minutes.
    4. Add the diluted lemon juice and mix well till all the milk solids (Chhena) separate from the whey. Takes a minute or so; stir all the time.
    5. Immediately, add 6 to 8 ice cubes and wait for 5 minutes.
    6. Drain using a soup strainer. Save the whey as I will post an excellent protein rich soup next with whey as its base.
    7. Let the Chhena rest in the soup strainer for about 10 minutes. For Chhena Poda, we need moist and crumbly paneer and so there is no need to tie it in a cloth and squeeze all the water out.

  2. Frying the Dry Fruits
    1. In 1 tbsp ghee, fry the cashews and raisins till they are golden brown.
    2. Set aside.
  3. Other Preparations
    1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
    2. Generously grease the baking mould with ghee.
    3. Spread the sugar as an even layer at the bottom. Use more sugar, if needed.
    4. Place the tray in the preheated oven and let the sugar caramalise to form a golden brown layer. Ensure that the caramel does not become dark because then it will be bitter. Also, the sugar will caramalise further in the baking process. 
    5. Take the tray out of the oven and let the caramel cool and harden.
  4. Making the Chhena Poda Batter (I did this as the sugar was caramelising)
    1. Crumble the chhena and mash it a bit but keep it grainy. Do not knead it to a smooth consistency because then the cake will become hard. 
    2. To the Chhena, add the elaichi powder, ghee, fried dry fruits, sugar, rava and 2 tbsp milk.
    3. Mix well.
    4. If required, add a little more milk (1 tbsp at a time), and mix till you get a batter of dropping consistency.
    5. Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes. This helps the sugar melt.

    6. Mix well.
    7. Add the batter to the baking mould and spread to form an even layer. Ensure that the dry fruits are not on the surface as they will char while baking.
    8. Bake at 180C for 25 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Take the tray out of the oven and let it cool a bit so that you can handle it easily. The Chhena Poda should be unmoulded when the tray is warm. Otherwise, the caramel will harden again and the cake will stick to the bottom.

  6. While the tray is till warm, if needed, use a sharp knife to loosen the edges of the Chhena Poda.
  7. Place a plate over the the baking tray and gently flip it over.
  8. Tap to unmould the Chhena Poda.
  9. Serve warm.
Odia Chhena Poda
Odia Chhena Poda

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