Channar/Rasgulla Payesh (Paneer Kheer)

By DK on Nov 01, 2012
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If you looked at the title, then at my picture, felt confused and looked up again at the title - don't worry. You are justified. It does, indeed look like Rasmalai. We Indians, will give you umpteenth excuses...err reasons, justify with vehemence about the absolute need to splurge oneself with sweets and desserts. I mean, we have so many festivals and auspicious occasions that deserves something sweet. Well, I know it looks like we invented occasions to validate our sweet consumption, but given the number, the variety and flavor of these addictive things, can you blame us?
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I have interest in comparing different take on a single dish in various cultures. Take Empanadas for example. Do you have any clue about the number of variants it has? Coming to Indian sweets, its really interesting to note the different take on the same dish within different regions, each making an itsy bitsy change and calling it their own (& generously providing a different name too:)). I can in fact spin off few different desserts from this Channar Payesh. You can make Rasmalai, Rasgullah, Basundi, Kheer, Rabadi, Angoor Basundi, Rasabali, Chhena kheeri and Chhena gaja (& possibly many more!) using minor changes to the recipe I have given today. Can you imagine that?
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I see many recipes online for Paneer Kheer that looks nothing like this.But every time I have tasted it at specialty sweetmeat shops, my Chennar Payesh always looked like Rasmalai. So what's the difference between Chennar Payesh (also known as Roshgullah payesh) and Rasmalai, you ask? Well, I am no bong or an authority on sweets but here is my amateur take on the versions. I think the difference lies in the shape of the Rasgulla. Its small and round in the payesh while Rasmalai has bigger versions that are flattened. The milk base for the two seem slightly different (whose distinct lines merge into one with different chefs and cooks). The Payesh is simmered until its reduced to half its volume - similar to Basundi texture while Rasmalai seem to have medium thickness (at times being just boiled sweetened milk). The payesh is further thickened by cooking the rasgullahs in it while that's not so in case of Rasmalai. Now, it might very well be the case that the original Bengali Chennar Payesh has just been adopted by some other region and named Rasmalai . I don't know better - but what I know is that no matter the difference or similarities, it will be over before you can blink!
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Chewy, soft cheese balls that ooze out sweetened and thickened milk with every bite is addictive to say the least. Saffron provides a beautiful golden hue with hint of cardamom adding to the aroma and subtle flavor. Call it any of the names you like, but the outcome, I believe, will be that its gets emptied out in a jiffy. Chilled bowl of milky goodness will be relished on any occasion, be it with your family or friends. Make it for festivals, treat the birthday boys/girls or simply  pamper everyone for get togethers. Give excuses - however lame - to make Chennar Payesh.  Its worth every one of them :)

Note: Prep time includes Chilling time and if everything is prepared simultaneously, the cooking time should be within 2 to 2-1/2 hours
References

referenced many online websites including this video and coming up with my own version.

Basic Information
Prep Time: 4 to 8 hours
Cook Time: 1 to 2 hours
Serves: 6 people
Yield: Serves 4-6 people
Ingredients
    For the Sugar Syrup
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1-1/2 cups Sugar
    For the Payesh/Kheer
  • 4 cups (1 quart/abt 1 liter) Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream, see Tips
  • Pinch of Saffron
  • 1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
  • 2 tbsp Sugar, or to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp finely chopped Pistachios
Tips
1. Chenna (Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese): Make sure you don't add the salt for this recipe. You can also make the chenna using just whole milk, but I personally think that US milk somehow just doesn't provide the rich taste (and texture) like in India. Adding some heavy cream gets the texture closer to home and hence I use it. But you can skip the heavy cream.

2. Heavy Cream for Payesh: Addition of heavy cream not only speeds up the thickening process but also imparts the obvious richness to the kheer. But you can skip it if you wish. I personally recommend using the heavy cream. The flavor is just right with it :)
Method
1
I followed the making of Chenna, pretty much the way until step 14 of Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese. Combine the heavy cream and milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring it to a boil.
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2
Just when it starts to boil, add the vinegar.
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3
Switch off the heat and keep stirring
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4
until you see the milk completely curdled.
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5
Pour it out to a colander that's lined with cheesecloth.
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6
I usually prefer to place the colander on top of another vessel to save the whey water. I use it for other purposes and do not throw it.
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7
Once drained, you get what we Indians refer to as Chenna
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8
Now wash this with cold water thoroughly. Apart from removing any acidic taste, it also helps to soften the cheese.
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9
Now comes the most crucial step. Drain the water well. Make sure to do this well since additional moisture will prevent you from making those mini rasgullas. Drain it for at least 20-30 minutes.
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10
I usually like to multi task in order to save me time, hence while the paneer is draining, I simultaneously boil my milk (for the kheer/payesh) in a heavy bottomed or preferably non stick pan.
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11
Combine the heavy cream and milk and bring it to a boil. Lower the flame and continue to heat it stirring it occasionally to avoid it sticking to the bottom.
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12
You will soon start to notice cream floating on the top.
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13
Keep stirring it and combine it with the milk. These, my dear sweet lovers, is whats going to make all that base (kheer) addictive :). Continue to simmer in low heat.
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14
Lets prepare the Rasgullahs. You know your paneer is ready when you can pinch of a small piece of the paneer, rub it for few seconds in your palm and shape it into small balls that's firm enough. If you are having trouble shaping them, then you need to drain it further. You can also use a heavy weight on top of the cheesecloth enclosed paneer to assist you in this process.
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15
Crumble the paneer.
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16
Now start the kneading. Use the edge of your palm to knead it for 5-8 min.
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17
It has to be soft and fluffy at the end of all that kneading. If its too dry, add in few drops of water.
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18
Now make small balls - the size of small marble (or cranberries!)
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19
make sure there aren't any cracked surfaces. Repeat for the rest of the paneer.
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20
While you are rolling, lets get the sugar syrup rolling :). Combine the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pan. Make sure its large enough to accommodate all the rasgullahs when they double in size.
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21
When the sugar syrup starts to boil, gently drop the balls into the syrup.
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22
Without stirring, let them cook for about 15 -18 minutes.
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23
While that's cooking, lets come back to our kheer. As you can see that's almost reduced to half.
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24
Now add in the sugar, saffron and cardamom.
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25
Stir to combine and continue cooking in simmer.
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26
You know your rasgullahs are ready when they have doubled in size. Do you see that they have taken up all the space in the pan now?
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27
They are bigger, softer and like small fluffy pillows when you press them.
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28
Remove from heat and let it rest for about 5-8 minutes. Press it very gently with a spoon to remove excess sugar syrup. Pressing too hard will break the rasgullahs.
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29
Drop the drained rasgullas into the payesh/kheer.
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30
Close with the lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the milk reduces and thickens further. The mixture will be more thicker and the flavor of the milk will be absorbed by the rasgullahs. You can at this point do a taste test and add more sugar if required. I generally do not add sugar to the kheer until after the rasgullahs have cooked in the milk mixture. At times if you have not removed the sugar syrup properly, it will become too sweet. Hence as an additional precaution I dont like to add sugar to the kheer before hand, esp. given that we don't prefer it to be too sweet.
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Transfer the kheer to the fridge and chill it. Serve it garnished with pistachios and a small word of thanks to the creative genius that came up with this. You might also feel obliged to curse him/her when you realize that you ate more than you can chew (pun intended) with the scale looking at you with an evil grin :). Authentic Bengali Sweets Recipes |  Diwali Sweets Recipes | Indian Festival Recipes
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21 Responses to “Channar/Rasgulla Payesh (Paneer Kheer)”
  1. Angell

    Really loved d pictorial description of d recipe…… Looks yumm!!!
    Wud like to know how to dilute d consistency of the kheer if it gets thicken after freezing…. That means before serving…. I faced this problem recently when I made this desert on my hubby’s b’day

  2. PreethiSindhuja

    Thats delicious………….I luvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvu tasting it!!! <3 :-P

  3. You Rasgulla has come out well. You have explained it well too. I love Rasgullas and in my preparation, I don’t use ricotta cheese. When you find time, please go through my version. I should try out your version soon and will let you know.

  4. Divya

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful recipe.i made this yesterday and everyone loved it.

  5. I make this for Lord Krishna often. Takes 15 minutes to make it, believe it or not. Well, 20 minutes, tops, to make just a handful of Rasgullas, or Rasmalai in Rabdi, Sandesh, Or a mix of almond or cashew grates to make Burfi.

  6. sana

    I cant wait to try this. But just let me lose a few more pounds :)

  7. I have only tasted this once, but let me tell, it was heavenly…I am going to make it…your recipe is so easy to follow…will let you know how it turns out…my mouth is already watering!!!

  8. Lata

    Hey- you got a lovely recipe there. I’m truly inspired to try this. Tell me one thing instead of making ricotta cheese, can I use the store bought ones? IF i can use them, should i use them at room temp?

    If you mean Whole Milk Ricotta that’s available in the stores in US, then I would suggest using store bought paneer instead. The texture here is more smoother that I am not too sure will work here (at least I havent tried it personally). I think getting the store bought paneer, cubing them, immersing in boiling water for few minutes and then crumbling them (in essence trying to make Chenna) would probably work much better than store bought ricotta cheese.Hope that helps–DK

  9. fathima

    hi…
    i am drooling.. i love rasmalai’s… we dont get it here in kerala.. :cry:
    so i look fwd to my visits to bangalore, to gobble these up :-D
    so thanks my dear for the step by step recipe.. thanks

  10. Archana Brian

    Hi DK, This is my daughter’s favourite dessert and i was always scared to try to make it at home; but after seeing ur step by step presentation, i think i can muster some courage to make it myself. Also wanted to compliment you on the beautiful step by step presentation. By far yours is the best food website. I am an avid follower of many food blogs/sites but if i have to try something new in the kitchen it is your site that i try to search first…pls continue ur posts…we love them :)

    Thanks for making my morning even more beautiful.:) –DK

  11. Meenakshi

    I just love your site, you have some amazing recipes….I check every week to see if you have anything new :wink:
    One question: can I make the paneers with milk powder? I have a lot of it(given by a friend who was moving away)… And I cant find a proper use for it. Let me know. :?:

    Hi Meenakshi – sorry for the delay in answering your query but given that I havent personally tried making paneer, I was scouting the net for answers. This link mentions that it can be done with milk powder – full fat preferably. But if you have non fat then there is suggestion to use whole milk along with the milk powder. Refer this link for details. Can you make paneer with powdered milk?. Now I am pepped to try this experiment given that I have some powdred milk (non fat though!). Hope this helps. Happy Diwali to you and yours :) –DK

  12. Mathi

    Hi DK,
    Am an ardent follower of your recipes and got great appreciation from my DH. : :wink: now that this is interesting for Diwali! Can i use the store bought paneer for this recipe or store bought Rasgulas for this:?: :roll:

    OH yes you can :) Thank you for the kind words :) :) –DK

  13. Love ur step by step here. A tedious task well presented. Absolutely delicious payesh.

  14. Wow, I wish I was eating a bowl without going through all that! :) Mouthwatering

  15. Just yummy! It looks so very good and the pics are so tempting.

  16. Hey DK, this is called ras-malai in North. I make it with store bought rasgullas. But yours is tempting me to make the whole thing from scratch. I add some milkmaid to the kheer to make it a little bit thicker. :)

    Yes I do mention that Charul :) . Milkmaid I assume is condensed milk? –DK

  17. Krithika Anand

    I love all your dishes and more so the way they have been presented.Yours is the only site with which am improving my cooking these days.Am preggie and just cant resist your posts.They are too very tempting i say.hope i get my hands on all your dishes soon.:)

    That is one of the best compliments I can hope to hear. Thank you so much Krithika. Congrats on the special phase in your life and best wishes for a safe and healthy D Day :) –DK

  18. Prakruti Chandrashekar

    I got the recipe also forwarded to me at Bangalore from my Grandfather as several earlier ones. We both love cookery too. The whole thing came off very well and tasted very nice too. I shall make it again on my grandfather’s birthday on 16 november. The first few steps took longer a time but the taste compensated for all the strain. Would you kindly send me too mails with cookery details.I am interested in learning several more items and try them.

    I am glad to hear that Prakruti. You can subscribe using the E-Mail subscription box located at the top right hand corner of any page. Or click on the RSS feed Icon to add the website link to your reader:) –DK

  19. Deirdra Strangio

    Hi, I was wondering, is this ever made as a savory dish? I’m on a no carb diet and HATE fake sugar but I love cheese.

    I dont see why Kosher/Organic Blonde sugar wont work…try it with that. And no, its basically a dessert. But if you mean a savory dish with the Paneer/Chenna, then yes. There are umpteenth dishes made from paneer. You can sample some of them in this link: Paneer Recipes –DK

  20. Am speechless and cant take my eyes from your paneer ki kheer, simply irresistible.

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