Chenna Poda, is a delicious cheese cake from Orissa, very popular in eastern part of India. The name literally means burnt (poda) cheese (chenna) .This is simply awesome dessert, made by home-made paneer/chenna and some dry fruits. It makes a cake-like soft dessert with a layer of caramelization all around. This gives a distinct flavor and a nice color as well.
First time I had this mouth-watering dessert, when I went to Puri with my parents in my teenage. Then after a long time, I discovered that this is more or less like 'Chenna r Cake', a well known sweet dish in Burdwan district of Bengal. Since my in-laws are from Burdwan, I have it regularly while visiting in-laws place-:) So I was looking for the recipe for last few years and very recently I tried it in my kitchen too. No doubt the end result was a big smile. Here is the simple recipe:
Chenna Poda: (for 4 to 6 people)
1. Whole Milk - 2 liters
2. Lemon juice - a big lime, mix it with 2 tsp of water
3. Semolina or Sooji - 3 tbsp
4. Sugar - 6-7 tbsp ( as per the taste )
5. Ghee (clarified butter) - 4 tbsp
6. Milk - 3 tbsp
7. Raisins - few (optional)
8. Cashew / Pistachio pieces - few
9. Cardamom powder - a pinch
1. To make Chenna (cottage cheese) at home:
Boil the milk in a pan and stir continuously. Once the milk starts boiling, lower the flame. Pour the lemon juice. Stir the milk. Once the milk starts curdling, and it changes into chenna(cottage cheese) and greenish water, remove the pan from oven.
2. Leave the chenna in this condition for 5-7 minutes.
3. Put it over a soft cotton cloth / or a cheese cloth (if you have any). Let all the water drain away.
4. Now put this cloth with the chenna under running cold water for 2-3 minutes. This will help to remove the smell of lemon.
5. Hang the chenna along with the cloth on the kitchen tap / faucet for 30 minutes. Please note that the Chenna shouldn’t get too dry. If it gets dry, the cake won’t be soft enough.
6. Now in a big bowl, take the chenna out, add sugar and mix it nicely. Then add semolina, ghee and knead them together with your palm.
7. Now fry the dry fruits with a 1 tbsp of ghee and mix them with the chenna. Add the milk and cardamom powder, mix it nicely.
8. To get the caramelized effect, apply 1 tbsp of ghee to the bottom of the baking dish . Sprinkle with sugar and hold it above a gas stove. Sugar will start melting within a few minutes. Then spread the sugar evenly.
9. Now pour the chenna mixture over the caramelized sugar.
10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 177 degrees C. Bake the chenna mixture for 35 to 40 minutes until the top turns to light brown and until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the chenna comes out clean.
11. Once it is done, let it cool down for 20 minutes, turn it upside down and cut it into pieces with a knife and serve!