My love for Nolen Gur has taken me to the level where I sometimes dream about it. Last year, in the summer, when we were in India, my hubby dear had an official trip to Kolkata. Normally, when the husband travels, he often gets demands from his wife and kids to bring special things from that place. Mostly, it is in the form of clothes, jewels, or some sort of valuable items- but hold on guys, when a food blogger's husband travels, he has all sorts of special food product lists with him. So, that time I handed him all of the famous food products of Kolkata that I wanted to bring to the USA. One item that I really wanted was Nolen Gur or Palm Gur, which is a delicacy of Bengal in the winter. Unfortunately, it was summer and he couldn't lay his hands on any. I was quite disappointed.
Luck changes, and our very own King Khan says that if you want anything with great passion, then that thing becomes yours. Funny, isn't it? No, not for me.
So last weekend, while roaming through the local Indian store, my husband surprised me with a beautiful pack of Nolen Gur wrapped with palm leaves. I couldn't believe my eyes!!!
Nowadays, we are binge watching a show hosted by Indian Chef Ranveer Brar- Raja Rasoi aur Andaaz Anokha. We love the whole setup of traditional utensils, recipes, and real screenplay. In one of the episodes when he made the Oriya dessert Chena Poda, I was taken to a different world. The dish was subtle, it used very few ingredients, and really celebrated the flavours of the rural east. Odisha and my connection got stronger when a decade back, I met one of my close friends from Odisha. Through her, I dived into the delicious flavours of the land of Jaganath Jee.
Coming back to my Nolen Gur stash, I have already planned a to-do list with this delicate Date Palm Jaggery.
So this afternoon, I experimented with my Chena Poda Cheesecake and it came out really amazing!!! I have made a few changes which made this recipe easy for new cooks.
What is Chena Poda?
The original desi version of cheesecake, this dessert is rich and dense, yet has quite subtle flavours. It uses fresh Indian Cheese which is Paneer/Chena. So what is the difference between Paneer and Chena? I would say when we take out the fresh Paneer and use it as fresh as we can (the water content is still present a little.) Depending on our taste and preference, we can use jaggery or sugar. Sooji, milk, and ghee are other ingredients. If you see all the ingredients are easily available in any Indian Kitchen. This dish has a perfect desi soul which is simple and flavourful. In old times and traditionally, it was steamed, but nowadays it is being baked.
There is a debatable question about whether we should use dry fruits or not. Is the use of sauce required or not? But I would say it depends on your personal preference. Personally, I don't like the texture of nuts in this particular dish so I didn't use any, but you can definitely use them. Another thing to do if you want to cut the calories is to not use milk- instead of that, use chena water. I used milk because I love how the flavour gets transformed to a different level.
My piece of advice for the people who want to try but get intimidated by it, DON'T- it's really simple. It is quite possible that your first try won't be perfect, but you will learn how to be perfect by doing experiments only, isn't that so?
Chena-Poda Cheesecake With Nolen Gur Sauce(Jaggery Sauce)
- 300 Gm Fresh Chena(Home made Paneer)
- 5 Tbsp Jaggery powder(I used Nolen Gur),you can use sugar as well.
- 2 Tbsp Sooji/Semolina/Rava
- 2 Tbsp Ghee
- 5 Tbsp Milk .You can use whey or chena water as well.
- 1 Tsp Green Cardamom Powder
- Nolen Gur Sauce
- ½ Cup Nolen Gur
- 1 Cup Water
- Pinch Cardamom Powder
- Take Chena /Paneer in a big bowl .Mash with your palm and fingers .
- Add sooji/Rava.Mix it really well.
- Add Gur powder/Jaggery powder.
- Add Ghee and Milk to the mixture.
- Mix it nicely.
- Take a baking pan .I used 2 small cheesecake pans.
- Pour the mixture in it.
- Bake it on 350 F for around 25-30 minutes or till the toothpick comes out clean.
- Keep it on the counter for cooling.
- Making of Nolen Gur Sauce.
- Add all the ingredients required for sauce to a saucepan.
- Let it boil for 2-3 minute.
- Keep the consistency according to your taste.
- Pour the sauce over the cheesecake.
- Cut it and serve it immediately .