If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you’d know how bonkers I am about Easter and eggs. And sure, as I do every year, at breakfast this Easter morning, I’ll be stuffing my face with an insanely large number of eggs, this time most likely in the form of this gorgeous Indian spiced Frittata.
I thought long and hard about a vegetarian version, that even non-egg eaters could enjoy. India being a largely vegetarian country, I wondered which popular, yet traditional dessert could fit the bill. The first thing that came to my mind was the pristine and succulent Rasgulla.
What is a Rasgulla?
Some say that the Rasgulla originated in Orissa and was made popular by the Bengali cuisine. But no matter its origins, it is supremely delicious nevertheless. The name Rasgulla is coined from the words ‘Ras’ meaning juice and ‘Gulla‘ which means ball. Translated, it literally means Juice Ball. Each bite, delivers a flood of sugar syrup into your mouth, the milk solids acting as the spongy vessel that holds all that juicy goodness inside. It is amazing how so few ingredients could create such amazing versatile deliciousness, as you can add color, flavour and so much more, as the Rasgulla is first and foremost – a sponge. I soaks up anything you put it into.
It didn’t take too much work to craft them into eggs – all they needed was a coloured ‘yolk’.
All eggs need a warm nest to snuggle into. And what better than the Turkish Baklava Bird’s Nests. Traditionally made with phyllo pastry, these Bird’s nests are one of my favourite Baklava’s – mostly because of their texture, and the fact that their shape never ceases to amaze and amuse me. I wonder what was going through the creator’s mind as he/she crafted shredded phyllo sheets to form a nest… I mean, why a nest? Not that I’m complaining!
I did not craft my nests out of phyllo pastry, but with vermicelli instead, which is more Indian than phyllo is.
Put these together, and you got yourself an Indian-Turkish dessert based on a largely Christian tradition. I’ve always said this – food is the simplest and the most delicious way to unite the masses.
This Easter, step away a little from the usual and now, mundane chocolate eggs and make yourself something exotic and indulgent.
A few tips to make soft, spongy rasgullas –
1. Use whole milk. 2% milk may work, but you get best results with whole milk.
2. Use lime juice to separate the milk, but if you have whey water at hand from previous milk separations, use why instead. Using whey water to separate milk yields softer paneer/chhenna.
3. Once the milk solids separate from the whey water, remove from heat immediately. Cooking milk solids hardens them, resulting in harder, chewier rasgullas.
4. While cooking the rasgulla balls in sugar syrup, use a vessel that is wide enough to accomodate the balls generously. They expand to twice their size, and unrestricted movement is essential for their sponginess.
And for the nests:
1. Buy the superfine kind of vermicelli. Don’t break the strand. Unbroken strands are easier to fashion into a nest.
Knead the crumbly paneer using your fingers and base of palm until it starts ‘sweating’ fat, turning your hand slightly greasy.
Divide and color the ‘yolks’
Make a small hole in the white ball using your little finger, place a coloured ball inside, and seal it closed. Roll using your palms to smooth any cracks.
Make sure the pan is big enough (wide and deep) to let the balls move freely (while cooking) without being crowded too much.
Note: This post is labelled under ‘5 Ingredients or less’ because each component for this assembled dessert requires less than 5 ingredients. If you chose to make them individually, that’s just how little you’ll need.
*The nests soften with prolonged contact with air. So serve immediately.