To celebrate the festival of Basant Panchmi this year, I decided to prepare Rajbhog. The below pictures of Rajbhog are when the first time I had successfully prepared this sweet dish. I was so thrilled with the outcome that I had clicked and sent these pictures to my mother!
Basant Panchami festival in India signifies the arrival of spring season. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped and everyone wears yellow coloured clothes. One dish is cooked which has yellow colour – either savory or sweet. In North India this time mustard crops are in full bloom and fields are full of yellow mustard flowers.
To carry on this yellow coloured sweet dish preparation, Rajbhog was perfect .It is prepared with chenna/ paneer (curdled milk). It is very close to Rasgulla (Rasgulla) , and the only difference between these two is that Rajbhog is slightly stuffed with dry nuts and saffron is added for colour and fragrance.
1 litre full fat milk
I lemon juice (can be replaced with 1 tbsp vinegar)
2 cups sugar (granulated)
4 1/2 cup water
1 tbsp finely chopped mixed dry nuts and cardamom powder
a few strands of saffron
Seeds of 2-3 whole cardamom
Keep ready one tray of ice cubes
In one tbsp of hot milk, add some strands of saffron in a small bowl and keep it aside. Cut dry nuts finely and keep them along with cardamom powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl, keep whole cardamom seeds.
Take one big bowl and on top of it keep strainer covered with muslin cloth to sieve curdled milk. The whey water can be used to knead dough or use it for curries.
Squeeze out lemon juice, sieve it, add equal amount of water to the lemon juice and keep it separately.
Boil milk, switch off the heat and pour lemon juice or vinegar. Milk will curdle as it is very hot.
When whole milk is curdled nicely, pour immediately in the strainer which is covered with muslin cloth and add ice cubes.
Let the chenna remain in muslin cloth and wash it nicely in the running water so that no taste of lemon or vinegar remains. Squeeze out all water from chenna.
Now hang this chenna in muslin cloth for 15 min, so that the rest of the the water drains out. If you feel that chenna still has moisture after hanging also, squeeze it with your hands along with muslin cloth.
Now chenna is completely dry. Sieve saffron milk (keep saffron strands safe) and add this into chenna to add moisture and beautiful yellow colour. Mix it properly so that whole chenna gets absorbed in yellow colour.
Rub it nicely with your palms so that all the grains of chenna become soft and it can be collected like a dough.
Prepare equal sized small balls from this whole chenna dough. There should not be any cracks in the balls. If you are getting cracks, rub the chenna ball between your palms and again make the ball.
Press the chenna ball with your finger and add little amount of finely cut mixture of dry nuts mixed with cardamom powder and again roll the ball neatly to seal the stuffing.
Now in a big size vessel or pressure cooker add water, sugar, saffron strands and cardamom seeds. Switch on the heat on high flame.
Keep stirring water till whole sugar is dissolved. The moment water starts boiling, add all chenna balls into this syrup and cover the vessel and keep some weight on the cover (if using cooker, let it boil till first whistle and then sim the flame for next 5-7 min.) Gas flame should be high for the first five minutes – then reduce it to sim for the next 5-7 minutes.
Switch off heat and let the steam cool down completely and then open the lid of the cooker. You will see that small balls of chenna have doubled in size.
Shift them to another bowl along with sugar syrup. Let them cool down completely. Once cooled, keep them in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours.
Serve chilled and garnish with dry nuts.
Spongy bright yellow coloured Rajbhog is ready to relish!!