What Is Rasgulla?

A. Leverkuhn

Rasgulla is an Indian dessert made of cheese. The specific kind of cheese is called “paneer” in India. It basically consists of boiled milk. Rasgulla comes in the form of small, airy white balls that have a sweet flavor.

Curd rice is another traditional Indian dessert.
Curd rice is another traditional Indian dessert.

Many cooks who make rasgulla start with milk. They boil the milk to condense the solids, draining off the watery element. Cooks typically boil the milk for ten minutes or more, stirring to prevent the milk from either burning or boiling over. The specific kind of milk that is used depends on what is available in the local area, and the cooking culture that predominates in a specific community. Some cooks use simple 2% fat cow’s milk, while others may use other varieties.

Boiled milk is the key ingredient in paneer cheese.
Boiled milk is the key ingredient in paneer cheese.

In addition to the fresh cheese that cooks utilize for this dish, other ingredients also go into making rasgulla. Some of these include natural sweeteners like sugar and honey. Lemon or lime juice may also be added. Cooks typically use water, while most of this gets boiled out of the food. The specific use of two boiling pots of water, and the respective temperatures, cooking times and manipulations of the cheese solids are all critical to getting this traditional Indian dish right.

To create the consistency of rasgulla, many cooks who make this dish in a conventional way, drain the solids through cheesecloth to eliminate the water. Collecting the residual solids, they roll these into small balls. The next part of the cooking process for this dish is somewhat unique. The cooks take the already boiled milk solids and boil them again in a new pot of water to get them to expand, changing the final texture. In between these two boilings, the milk solids are cooled down by the application of cold water, which helps them to congeal before being expanded by the second boiling.

The finished rasgulla balls can be served in many different ways. A common and simple presentation involves placing these dessert items next to each other on a flat tray. The simple visual appeal of these desserts makes them a prime candidate for colorful and attractive garnishes. For example, a cook may garnish the dish with bright green or red herbs to provide a great color contrast. Other garnishes may add flavor combinations or otherwise enhance the final presentation of the dish.

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Another fact: Rasgulla was invented 500 years ago in the sacred temple at Puri in Odisha.

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