Category Archives: Bengali

Channar Payesh Pannacotta

My old friend from school, Fanny celebrated her birthday yesterday and when I posted my greetings (along with the multitude of others who are fortunate to know her) on her FB page, pat came her reply, so where’s my dessert? Now its hard to refuse a birthday wish for anyone, & especially not for such a bubbly, sunny & cheerful character like her, so this was created keeping in mind the roman catholic traditions that she was born into and by marriage, the culture of West Bengal, she has so wonderfully assimilated.
Pannacotta is the Italian name for cooked cream, or so says wikipedia! I’ve never ever tried making this before & it was such a relief to find that it was ridiculously easy to concoct! I must confess, it tried some extra things along the way that were not really worth it… (I’ll post those when i decide to blog about my culinary bloopers).
 Chenna or channa refers to the milk solids obtained by curdling milk. Bengal holds the distinction of producing some of the most scrumptious desserts in Indian cuisine and a large number of them use milk solids as the chief ingredient. It gives the dessert a  soft yet distinct mouth feel reminiscent of cheesecake.

For this you need: (makes 4 servings)
2 cup whole milk + 1/4 cup extra
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 cup condensed milk
3-4 cardamom pods, seeds powdered
2 tbsp unflavored agar flakes (china grass)
3/4 cups water,
slivered pistachio, candied orange peel for garnishing

Rub the inside surface of 4 small individual ramekin cups (stainless steel katori’s should be fine) with unsalted butter.

1. In a pan boil 2 cups of milk till its  scalding hot & rises. add the lime juice & remove from stove. stire well & set      aside. After 5 minutes strain out the milk solids, squeezing out the whey completely. Transfer solids  into a mixing bowl, add cardamom powder and rub between the fingers till the consistency resembles that of bread crumbs. Set aside.

(ignore the red spoon!)

2. Combine 1/2 cup condensed milk and the 1/4 cup extra fresh milk well to make into a smooth creamy consistency. add  the milk solids and combine till mixed evenly. Set aside.

3. In a pan heat the water and add the agar flakes. (since the one I have at home is the form of long threads, I soften them in water & cut them into small bits  before heating them), bring to a boil, ensuring that the strands have completely dissolved.

Combine the agar and the condensed milk mixture stirring well to ensure even & complete mixing.

Distribute evenly into the individual cups, cover, & place in refrigerator to set. (~ 1 hr)

To serve, insert a thin blade knife between the pannacotta & the cup to dislodge, Invert onto a plate (jiggling the cup to ensure a clean transfer). Garnish with slivered Pistachios & candied orange peel ( or freestyle caramelized sugar threads!)

Bon Appetit,