Today, I am presenting Chhena Gaja, an absolutely delicious and easy to make sweet from the beautiful state of Odisha. From what I have read, it is the village of Pahala that excels in making this sweet.
I first tasted this wonderful sweet in my childhood on my first trip to Odisha. My cousin’s husband worked for Indian Railways and was posted at Khurda Road Junction. We stayed with them, and then travelled all over Odisha.
I had quite forgotten about it till I had it Chhena Gaja again two years ago at the engagement of the grandson of this very same cousin. So this week, when we chose Odia Cuisine as the theme for the 122nd Foodie Monday Blog Hop, I jumped at the chance to make this mouthwatering dessert.
I know that the traditional Chhena Gaja is square in shape. However, I was very pressed for time and so shaped them into rectangular logs.
How to Make Chhena Gaja | A Traditional Sweet from Odisha
This is the recipe for Chhena Gaja, a traditional sweet from Odisha. It is essentially deep-fried squares of freshly made cottage cheese (paneer) soaked in Sugar Syrup.
- 1 Litre Full Fat Milk
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 6 to 8 Cubes Ice
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 2/3 Cup Water
- 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
- 1-2 tbsp Rose Water Or Few Drops of Kewra
- 1 tbsp Rava, Semolina
- Oil or Ghee for Frying the Gaja
Bring the milk to a boil.
Turn off the heat and wait for 2 to 3 minutes.
Now add the lemon juice gradually and stir till the whey separates from the milk solids.
Add the ice cubes and wait for 5 minutes.
Using a a thin cotton cloth or cheese cloth, drain all the whey from the Chhena.
Wash the Chhena well under running water to remove traces of the lemon.
Squeeze the extra water from the Chhena.
In a heavy-bottomed vessel, combine the sugar and water.
Now cook these ingredients till you get a thick syrup (one string consistency).
Add a few drops of lemon juice and mix well. This prevents the sugar syrup from crystallizing after we take it off the heat.
Add the rose water and mix well.
Over low flame, keep the sugar syrup remain warm.
Break up the Chhena till it is crumbly.
Add the rava and knead well till it comes together as a smooth dough.
Divide the dough into 8 to 12 equal portions.
Roll each portion into a ball and then press to form a disc.
Shape the disc into a square. As you can see I shaped them into rectangular logs.
Set aside. Cover with a damp cloth, if required.
In a small kadhai, over low flame, heat about 1/2 cup oil.
To test the heat of the oil, add a tiny ball of chhena to the oil. It should sizzle on the surface of the oil.
Keeping the heat at low to medium, add a few Gaja at a time to the oil and fry till golden brown.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the Gaja from the oil and add to the Sugar Syrup.
Fry all the Gaja, and add them to the sugar syrup.
Let the Chhena Gaja soak in the syrup for about 1 hour.
Remove the Chhena Gaja from the syrup and enjoy!
Recipe for Chhena Gaja | A Traditional Sweet from Odisha
- Making the Chhena or Cottage Cheese
- Boil the milk.
- When the milk starts to boil, remove it from the heat and let it cool for 2 to 3 minutes. The milk should not cool. We just want the boil to subside.
- Now add the lemon juice gradually and mix well.
- As you mix, you will see the the milk solids and whey separating.
- Once all milk solids have separated, add the ice cubes and wait for 5 minutes. This keeps the Chhena soft.
- Now line a soup strainer with a thin cotton cloth or cheese cloth.
- Pour the split milk into the strainer to drain all the whey from the Chhena. Save the Whey to make a delicious protein-rich soup.
- Now wash the Chhena well under running water to remove residual lemon juice.
- Squeeze all liquid from the Chhena.
- Making the Sugar Syrup
- In a heavy-bottomed vessel, boil the sugar and water till you get a syrup of one string consistency.
- Turn the heat to low and now stir-in a few drops of lemon juice into the syrup. The lemon juice prevents the sugar syrup from crystallizing after it cools. This is an optional step.
- Now add the rose water and mix well.
- Over low flame, keep the sugar syrup remain warm.
- Making the Chhena Gaja
- Crumble the Chhena and add rava to it.
- Using the heel of your palm, knead the chhena and rava till you get a smooth dough.
- Divide the kneaded chenna into 8 to 12 equal portions.
- Shape each portion into a square. As you can see from the photos, my Chhena Gaja are like rectangular logs.
- In a small kadhai, over low flame, heat about 1/2 cup oil. The oil should just hot enough to fry. If it is very hot, the gaja will burn in a second. To test the warmth of the oil, add a tiny ball of chhena to the oil. It should sizzle on the surface of the oil and turn brown slowly.
- Over low to medium heat, fry a few Gaja at a time till they are golden brown.
- Using a slotted ladle, drain all the oil from fried Gaja and add them to the Sugar Syrup.
- Let the Chhena Gaja soak in the syrup for about 1 hour.
- Crumble the Chhena and add rava to it.
- To serve, remove the Chhena Gaja from the syrup.
- To store, use a dry air-tight container.
To see more Odiya Cuisine recipes, see what my fellow bloggers have cooked for the 122nd Foodie Monday Blog Hop by clicking on the logo below.