Rashogolla/Rasgulla/Indian cottage cheese balls in sugar syrup

Should I be beheaded if I say that I DON’T like rashogolla? The answer probably would be yes. Despite knowing the dire consequences, I must confess that I am not a big fan of the iconic Bengali heartbreakers. They are too sweet for my taste. I like them only when they are freshly made, still hot and super soft. My Baba used to get them from the local moira (sweetmeat maker) right after they were thrown in the hot sugar syrup. These fresh rashogollas would literally melt in the mouth and had a very delicate taste. But then, I am from Chandannagar (a small town around 50 miles from Kolkata), which has a highly developed and ancient population of legendary moiras.

You must be wondering why I make rashogollas if I don’t love them. The reason is I love rashomalai/rasmalai. The intention was to make something very Bengali on Bijoya dashomi. As I cannot make nimki (my Maa used to make them on dashomi), I thought rashogolla would be perfect for the occasion. Nothing is more Bengali than those spongy snow white balls dunked in sugar syrup.

I made rashogolla a few years ago and they came out perfect. Stupid me, I didn’t even think about writing down the recipe. When I tried to make it this time, it was a disaster. The rashogollas were rock hard and didn’t even expand in size. Before I tried making them, I asked my friend Google for recipes. My husband always jokingly says “Google is your friend (GIYF)” whenever I ask a question that he is not in a mood to answer. Unfortunately it turned out to be that Google is not always your friend. All the recipes were more or less the same and I followed the basic guidelines. It looked so easy and hassle free in the videos and recipes that I tried making them even after I came home late and was very tired. The result was very disappointing and made me upset. Being very stubborn with cooking, I tried it again the next day and it was ‘quite’ perfect. It was almost what I was expecting, except, the shape was not perfect golla (round). I boiled them in thin syrup first and they were big fat perfectly round gollas, but when I dropped them in the thick syrup, they shrunk a little bit and lost the perfect round shape. Oh well….who cares? (I do care though and will have sleepless nights unless I can figure out the reason). Soon they will be immersed in thick, creamy malai (milk cream), and the lovely flavor they will acquire will more than compensate for the minor deviation from perfect sphericity.

At first I thought I should not post it unless it’s perfect. Then I thought that I never claimed to be a perfect cook. Not everything comes out perfect or the way I want them to be, so why not? Here you go with the not-so-perfect rashogollas. If you can overcome the imperfect shape factor, they are as perfect as a rashogolla can get. I would love to hear any suggestion you might have to make them round next time.

I am not posting a recipe here. You can find 100 recipes online. I have followed the basic procedures from here and here . Manjula’s kitchen is a very good source for videos. Sometimes a video helps more than a written recipe. I have used vinegar instead of lemon juice (didn’t have lemon in hand). At first I boiled the cheese balls in a thin syrup (sugar:water=1:4) and after they were done, I transfered them to a thick syrup (sugar:water=1:2). I didn’t add any maida/all purpose flour but my Maa said it might help to retain the shape, but I have to be very careful not to add a lot. I didn’t use pressure cooker and boiled them covered in a deep bottom pan for 10-15 minutes on low-medium flame.

P.S. Indian cottage cheese (chhana) is distinct from the Western product, and could be classified more specifically as a sweet curd cheese.

FYI: Rosh/Ras= sugar syrup, Golla/Gulla=round…so the name literally means ‘balls in sugar syrup’ (I am sure every Indian knows about it).