Chanar Payesh is a luxurious, elegant Bengali dessert, a creamy fresh cottage cheese pudding infused with green cardamom flavour, pops of plumpy raisins, crunchy nuts. A dessert that is fundamentally made with Milk and Sugar. If you have Chana or the store-bought Paneer in your fridge, it is an effortless dessert recipe for cold winter nights or any occasion.
What is Chana, and how to make it?
Chana is Bengali style fresh homemade cottage cheese and the star ingredient in most Bengali confectionery! It is so easy to make at home that my mum used to make fresh Chana every day for my grandfather’s afternoon snack.
- All you need is a heavy bottom saucepan to heat the milk; once the milk is hot, wait for a few seconds and stir the milk to reduce the temperature.
- Then add an acid ingredient like vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid to the warm milk. Because of the easy access, I often use vinegar.
- Stir the milk. You will see that the milk starts curdling!
- Remove the saucepan from heat, let it stand for ten minutes.
- Pour the whole thing in a cheesecloth;
- Wash the Chana with cold water to remove acidity from it.
- Then wrap the cheesecloth tightly and hang them in the kitchen tap or a steamer at least for half an hour!
Your chana will be ready.
Is it necessary to wash Chana?
It depends on the dish you make with it. Personally, I don’t wash Chana if I am using it for curry or Sweets. The reasons are:
- While by washing, we can remove the acidity at the same time it washed away some calcium as well.
- When you pour cold water into hot Chana, it becomes firm or hard.
I only wash Chana if I am going to add it in the simmering milk. This process will prevent the curdling of milk.
The difference between Chana and paneer-
The only difference between Chana and Paneer is in texture.
Chana- The texture of Chana is similar to ricotta. Chana has more moisture; it is softer, creamier than Paneer.
Paneer- On the other hand, to make Paneer, you need to drain the curd for a longer time and put some weights to get the firm texture. Refer to Paneer recipes here.
What is Payesh?
Payesh is Bengali style pudding; it is the ultimate homey dessert in the Bengali kitchen. Chal-er-Payesh or Bengali style rice pudding is a must to serve on a special birthday meal! There are two ways you can sweeten Payesh, one is sugar, and the other is date jaggery! Especially during cold winter nights, the sweet aroma of simmering milk and date jaggery is magical! like this Chosir Payesh.
What goes in Chanar Payesh
Full Cream Milk and Sugar – these are the main ingredients for any kind of Payesh. And this Chanar payesh recipe is a “pudding from your pantry” kind of recipe.
I often make a large amount of Chana at home because it’s pocket-friendly and, I can make quick vegetarian lunch or breakfast if I have some extra chana in my refrigerator. However, I prefer to make Chanar payesh from scratch!
Vinegar- I use vinegar to curdle the milk to make Chana.
Nuts and raisins- Crunchy nuts and plumpy raisins are the ornaments in your Chanar payesh or any payesh! Feel free to use whatever nuts you have in your pantry. I add cashew, pistachios, almond or sometimes walnuts.
Flavour- Green cardamom, saffron, and rosewater; you can add all of them or choose one!
How to make Chanar Payesh?
It’s super easy to make once you have prepared chana! All you need to do is simmer milk in a heavy-duty cooking pot over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. Take 2 tbsp of milk in a small bowl and soak the saffron strands.
Meanwhile, take Chana on a plate, add about 2 tbsp sugar and crumble the Chana by your hand.
Next, in a frying pan melt ghee, add nuts and fry for a minute, then add Chana. Over medium heat cook the chana for a few seconds. I do this extra step to make sure that when we add Chana in the simmering milk, milk doesn’t curdle. Even if you wash the Chana before wrapping it in cheesecloth, it’s safe to walk this extra step and I guarantee this will enhance the taste of the Payesh.
Add sugar, green cardamoms, chana into the milk and simmer for another 10 minutes. Once you get the desired consistency, add the saffron milk, increase the heat to high, give a final stir and turn off the heat. Add rosewater and cover with a lid!
Serve either chilled or at room temperature.