Chana’r Payes (Bengali Style Cottage Cheese and Milk Pudding)

10:58 AM

 Today is Mahalaya, the end of Pitripaksha and the beginning of auspicious Devipaksha, the time when Bengalis all over the world gears up for the celebration of their biggest festival Durga Puja. At the crack of dawn through chanting of Mahisashur Mardini mantras, we pray and invite the goddess to descend on Earth. (read my last year's post here)

Today is also my and hubby’s birthday. Yes! Like our lives we also share our birthdays. But today all of us are very tired. We just got back from our trip to Orissa and the change of weather has made the baby sick. The maid is also absent for the last 10 days after she got her new dress and bonus for the puja. Now am highly suspicious that she is gone for good and its high time that I look for a substitute. With loads of laundry and a dirty house almost made theirs by the ants and spiders in our absence, I hardly get any time to plan anything for the big day.
I also am very low on energy right now to cook a full-fledged meal for us, so happily shelved that idea of an elaborate birthday meal for another bright sunny day. Rather planned for a mousse cake and good home delivery. But call it family pressure or whatever I at least have got 12 calls since morning with birthday wishes and esquires about the menu for our big night. Finally I had to give in when even my 4 years old niece wished and asked me if I had made payes. So finally I had to surrender and decided on this chanar payes, which my man can’t resist.

Chanar payes also known as ‘channamrito’ is not very common in Bangali mishti’r dokan or sweet shops. Rather very few chosen shops sell this delight in small plastic cups. Chanar payes is always enjoyed chilled with some chopped green goodness of pistachios. This cardamom or keora flavoured thick creamy and little grainy dessert is a delight to eat. The recipe is quite easy to assemble provided you have patience to stir the milk to thicken it to desired consistency. Below is the recipe

Chanar payes

Full cream milk: 1+1 liter
Lemon juice: 1 tbsp
Milkmaid: ½ can
Sugar: 2 tbsp or as per taste
Pistachios: few
Green cardamom: 3-4

Heat 1-liter milk in a heavy bottom pan on medium flame. Stir in between to prevent it from burning at the bottom. The milk will start to thicken and getting reddish hue slowly. Continue doing this for 30-35 minutes till its thick and creamy.

In the mean time lets make the chana or cottage cheese. Heat 1-liter milk in another pan. Once it starts to boil pour in the limejuice. Reduce the flame to low and stir gently. The milk will curdle and clear whey will separate. Strain the paneer in a muslin cloth. Wash under cold running water to get rid of the lemony smell and then hang it for ½ an hour.

Now get back to the boiling milk, which must have reduced, in quantity by now. To this add the milkmaid. Stir gently to mix. Check the sweetness and add sugar as per your taste.
Now get the chana out of the cloth wrap and start kneading it with the palm of your hand. Knead to make it smooth for 5-6 minutes.

Once you are happy with the consistency of the thickened milk reduce the flame and start adding the chana little by little. Gently stir to mix the chana to the milk. Once all the chana is added let it simmer on low heat for 3-4 minutes. Make sure there is enough liquid as the chana will soak up lots of liquid during the process of cooling. The consistency of the final dish should not be runny or dry. So adjust the liquid accordingly.

Once done, sprinkle pounded green cardamom and mix.
Serve chilled with generous sprinkling of pistachios.

A homemaker’s note:
Make sure to wash the chana very well under water, as any trace of lemon will curdle the thickened milk.

Thicken the milk before you add the chana as the milk should not be boiled for long with chana in it. It has high chance of curdling.

The flavouring can vary. You can use bay leaf, cardamom or keora water to give it your choice of aroma.

You can also add saffron threads to add flavour and colour to this dessert.

The thickened milk should have enough liquid to hydrate the chana and still leave some liquid. So thicken the milk accordingly or adjust the consistency by adding more liquid.

With This heavenly Dessert I wish you 

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