Chhena is a type of fresh cheese popular in Indian cuisine, especially in the eastern part of India. It is made by curdling milk with an acidifying agent such as lemon juice or vinegar, and then separating the curds from the whey. The curds are then strained and pressed to remove any excess liquid, resulting in a soft and crunchy cheese that is similar in texture to cottage cheese or ricotta.
Chhena has a mild and slightly tangy flavor, which makes it a versatile ingredient in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. In Indian cuisine, chhena is commonly used to make desserts such as rasgulla, chhena poda, chhena kheer and chhena gaj. It can also be used in savory dishes such as chhena paturi, a popular Bengali dish in which chhena is stuffed with spices and steamed in banana leaves.
Chhena is a rich source of protein and calcium, and is considered a healthy alternative to other dairy products such as cream cheese or butter. It is also a popular ingredient in vegetarian and vegan diets, as it is made without the use of rennet, which is derived from animal sources.
Popular chhena based Indian sweet
Chhena is a versatile ingredient commonly used in Indian desserts, especially in the eastern part of India. Here are some of the most popular chhena-based Indian sweets:
Rasgulla: Rasgulla is a popular Bengali sweet made of chickpeas that is boiled in sugar syrup until it becomes spongy and absorbs the syrup. The result is a soft and juicy ball of cheese that is light and airy.
Chhena Poda: Chhena Poda is an Oriya sweet made with chhena, sugar and semolina and baked till golden brown. The result is a caramelised, sweet and slightly smoky flavored cake that is soft and fluffy.
Chhena Kheer: Chhena Kheer is a creamy and rich pudding made with chhena, milk, sugar and cardamom. It is generally served chilled and garnished with chopped nuts.
Chhena Ladoo: Chhena Ladoo is a popular Indian sweet made with chhena, sugar and nuts. The mixture is shaped into balls and can be served as a dessert or as a sweet snack.
Chhena Gaja: Chhena Gaja is a sweet dish from Odisha made with chhena, refined flour and sugar and deep fried till golden brown. The result is a crispy and crunchy dessert that is usually served during festive occasions.
How to make chhena at home
Here’s a step-by-step guide to making chhena at home:
- 1 liter full fat milk
- 2 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
- Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed vessel and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
- After the milk starts boiling, add lemon juice or vinegar to it and mix well. The milk will curdle and curd will separate from the whey.
- Once the curds and whey separate completely, turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Line a strainer or colander with cheesecloth or muslin cloth and place over a bowl to catch the whey.
- Carefully pour the curdled milk mixture into a strainer or strainer and leave for 5-10 minutes.
- Once most of the liquid is gone, gather up the sides of the cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess liquid.
- Put the Chhaina in a clean bowl and knead the Chhaina with light hands until the Chhaina becomes smooth and soft.
- The chhena is now ready to be used in your favorite recipe or can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Use full fat milk for best results
Be careful not to overcook the milk as it may affect the texture of the chhaina.
You can rinse the chhaina with cold water to remove any sour taste from the lemon juice or vinegar.
Use leftover whey to make soups, stews or use it in your baking recipes as a substitute for water
Chhena, a type of fresh paneer, has many health benefits:
Protein-Rich Chhena is a rich source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscles, tissues and organs. There is about 11 grams of protein in 100 grams of Chhaina.
Good source of calcium Chickpeas are a good source of calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. There is about 150 mg of calcium in 100 grams of Chhaina.
Low in fat: Chhena has a low fat content as compared to other dairy products like cream cheese or butter. This makes it a healthy option for those watching their fat intake.
Low in calories: Chhena is relatively low in calories as compared to other desserts. There are about 140 calories in 100 grams of Chhaina, which is less than a serving of cake or ice cream.
May Improve Digestion: Chhena is rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and help improve digestion and absorption of nutrients.
May boost immunity: Chickpeas are rich in vitamins and minerals, which can help boost immunity and protect the body from diseases and infections.
However, it is important to note that chhena is also high in sugar, especially when used in desserts like rasgulla or chhena kheer. Therefore, it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Sure, here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about chhena:
Question: What is Chhena?
Answer: Chhena is a type of fresh cheese made from milk, commonly used in Indian cuisine, especially in the eastern part of India.
Question: How is Chhena made?
Answer: Chhaina is made by mixing milk with an acidifying agent like lemon juice or vinegar, which causes the curds and whey to separate. The curd is then strained, washed, and kneaded until smooth and soft.
Q: What are some popular Indian sweets made from Chhena?
Answer: Some of the popular Indian sweets made from Chhena include Rasgulla, Chhena Poda, Chhena Kheer, Chhena Laddu and Chhena Gaja.
Question: Is chhena healthy?
A:Chenna is a good source of protein, calcium and probiotics. It is also low in fat and calories as compared to other desserts. However, it has a high sugar content when used in desserts, so it should be consumed in moderation.
Q: How should I store Chhaina?
Answer: Chhaina can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Question: Can I make Chhena at home?
Answer: Yes, chhaina can be easily made at home by coagulating milk with an acidic agent and then straining and kneading the curd. There are many recipes and tutorials available online.
Question: What can be made from the leftover whey after making Chhena?
Answer: Leftover whey can be used as a substitute for water in soups, stews or baking recipes. It is also a good source of protein and can be added to smoothies or protein shakes.Image by ededchechine on Freepik