I don't eat much desserts but rasgulla and rasmalai is one of my favourites among Indian sweets. And like other desserts of my choice I like them really mildly sweet. That is the reason I prefer making them at home because no known source of rasgulla or any other mithai for that matter, makes them mildly sweet. Homemade rasgulla can be made as much sweet as you want and mine are always floating in a very watery syrup. But this Orange rasgulla is something more than just being mildly sweet and to be without any added sugar in the recipe. The only sugar this orange rasgulla has comes from the oranges and the orange juice used instead of sugar syrup in this recipe.
I know a particular rasgulla shop around the lanes of assi ghat in Banaras who used to make 'orange flavoured rasgullas' fresh everyday. The quality of the rasgulla was very good owing to the freshness and of course the skill level of the halwai, but those rasgullas were too sweet for me and they had orange essence and orange colour in it. I tasted them only twice and decided I would make better real orange rasgullas at home. This was about 15 years ago and what I did at that time was to just make the regular homemade rasgulla, squeezed all syrup from each one of them and soaked them in fresh orange juice. The idea was good but it could be improved and I did improve when I experimented later, and the orange rasgulla made it's way to our table a few times after that. Always when we had someone visiting or for a formal get together. Otherwise we rarely eat any mithais.
One of these get togethers we did last year and cooked Awadhi food including shami kababs, awadhi biryani, safaid korma and a few more things for main course, I made these orange rasgullas for dessert. Luckily I clicked a few pictures too but then got busy with something and forgot to share it here on the blog.
And then I had a food trail of Delhi with Chef Johnny Iuzzini some time ago and he tasted rasgulla and addressed it as 'the sponge whose syrup is squeezed out'. That was a familiar but funny description of a rasgulla to hear as I know many people who squeeze out even the last drop of syrup form the rasgulla and eat the dry sponge. Oh even I do that but soak them again in plain whole milk with some cream and then eat it. Yes I am picky like that :-)
This incident reminded me of the best rasgulla I like and I decided to share it with you all. Although you may make the rasgulla the normal way and then squeeze and dip them in orange juice, but cooking them in plain water and some orange zest results in better flavours of orange seeped into the rasgullas. See how to do it.
(for 30 medium sized rasgullas)
2 Liters milk ( I used 3% milk from Amul) the best is to use raw cows milk for the best rasgullas
2 Liters orange juice ( I used cartons of Real)
3-4 fresh oranges to garnish
zest of orange or thin strips cut from the peel 1 tsp or as desired
First of all heat up raw (or pasteurized) milk to just below boiling temperature (around 92C) and curdle the milk by adding diluted white vinegar or lime juice adding half tsp at a time. Wait till the milk splits into the curdled chhenna and whey and then strain the whey through a strainer. Collect the chhenna and rinse it well under running water. Squeeze and knead the chhenna well to make a very smooth mass that doesn't crack when rolled into small balls. If the chhenna at this stage is not smooth, do not proceed to make rasgulla, use the chhenna to make paneer bhurji or paneer paratha instead. The trick to make suitable smooth chhenna for rasgulla lies in splitting the milk slowly at a temperature just before boiling.
Detailed procedure of splitting milk for making chhenna suitable for making rasgulla is described in my homemade rasgulla post. Please refer to that if in doubt.
Now take enough water in a wide pan or pressure cooker to accommodate 6-8 rasgullas and bring the water to boil. Take care that the rasgullas expand about 4-5 times of their starting volume so keep room for that too. Add the orange zest and the chhenna balls, cover the lid and cook till the pressure builds up, one whistle.
See I had overcrowded the rasgullas and they have lost thier round shape, but not to worry if this happens. The rasgullas will be fine albeit the shape.
Let it cool by itself and open the lid, take out the expanded rasgullas out, squeeze them one by one and dip in fresh orange juice (or from a carton) kept in a wide bowl.
Note that there was no sugar in the cooking medium and the sponge for these rasgullas were cooked in plain water infused with orange zest. This causes a few cracks on the surface of the rasgulla but it doesn't affect the taste and texture. A fairly saturated sugar syrup doesn't let these cracks appear while cooking but we don't mind a few cracks on rasgullas.
Slice some fresh oranges and dip them along with the orange rasgullas and chill before serving. If you want more concentrated flavours of orange you can reduce the orange juice by cooking it for some time but I don't feel any such compulsion to make the orange juice sweeter or thicker.
I one had rasgullas paired with mishti doi in a Bengali wedding and love that version too. Try some of these variations with rasgulla and let me know which one you like better. I know if you have lived around Odisha or Bengal you must have experienced these delights already. Orange rasgulla is for you to try in any case.
Traumatic sour times,
and parental separations
of those that remained
curdled but unbowed.
A gentle hand
and putting them together again,
and a smoothening of life
with a cleansing
in orange steam,
feel relaxed once again.
The signs of struggle
on the face of it,
but the mind
at the welcome
by the juicy youn
into the juice.
Some time later,
the seeping in
of a new life,
the orange rasagullas smile.