Rakshabandhan.... a bond of love between a brother and sister.... of care.... a promise to protect each other in every situation. On such occasions, childhood haunts me inevitably.... with how much enthusiasm we used to go to the market with mom to buy Rakhi, a night before, how eagerly bhai waited next day to wear it before going to school. He used to come back with more enthusiasm with two hands full of Rakhis, tied by his classmates. Yes, in our times we used to tie Rakhi on our friend's hands. Tagore introduced this concept of tying Rakhi to promote brotherhood and friendship.... was it during partition of Bengal??
Among us Indians, any festival is a means to eat to our heart's content... specially sweets. I remember how mom used to cook so many things on such occasions.... Luchi and payesh/kheer was the common connection, Kolkata is a hub for sweets, so Roshogolla and Sandesh were always store bought. Here I try to prepare sweets at home, those within my limits. These are CHAMCHAM in MALAI very famous in Kolkata. I have given stepwise pictures so that it becomes easier to do. Let us do it.
INGREDIENTS :[for the chamcham]
Milk : 2litres
Lemon Juice : 3tbsp
Ice Cubes : 1/2 cup
Semolina : 1tbsp
Baking Soda : 1tsp
INGREDIENTS :[for the sugar syrup]
Water : 5cups
Sugar : 2cups
INGREDIENTS :[for the malai]
Milk : 1big cup
Sugar : 1tbsp
Saffron : 5-6 strands[optional]
Pistachios to garnish[optional] METHOD :
Let us prepare the cottage cheese first. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed vessel and bring to boil at medium heat. Keep stirring continuously.
Pour the lemon juice. As soon as the milk curdles, switch off gas, immediately pour in the ice cubes to avoid the cheese from hardening.
Take a thin white cloth and strain the cheese. Tie it, squeeze more water, hold under the tap to get rid of the smell of lemon.
Hang for about 40 minutes, now it looks as this.
Add the semolina and baking powder to the cheese and rub very well for about 20 minutes. This mashing part is very important.
Now shape into small round balls and then roll between your palms to shape into chamcham. They look as this.
While we are shaping the cham cham, we can prepare the syrup on the gas. Take the water and sugar in a vessel and boil.
As the syrup boil, add the cham cham slowly. Cover and let them boil for 20 minutes.They look like this.
Meanwhile let us prepare the malai. Boil the milk, sugar and saffron strands till the milk reduces to half cup, gets thicker.
The cham chams are ready after 20 minutes. Take them out from the syrup and transfer them to a bowl. Pour the malai over them. Garnish with pishtachios.
You can skip the malai part and have it just like that.