Beyond Mishti: 5 Chhena-Based Delights From The Bengali Kitchen

If you are a Bengali you could not have probably have spent a week without having chhena as a part of your meals. Chhena or Chhana, as it is referred to in Bengali is cheese curd that is obtained by adding lemon juice or calcium lactate to cow or buffalo milk and then straining the whey produced with the help of filtration. It is a favourite ingredient for a mouth-watering array of Bengali sweets and is also used in curry recipes and snacks. Yes, you read it right.

Culinary connoisseurs will vouch for the lip-smacking varieties of dishes that can be prepared out of chhena. Here is a list of 5 chhena based items directly from the culinary corner of the Bong chefs.

1. Chhenar Pulao

A pulao or sweet rice with a twist, this Chhena delicacy has its origin from none other than the eminent Tagore family which was known for its modern disposition that is well reflected through the dishes that used to be prepared on its soil. This rice delicacy has chhena balls as one of its main ingredients, tinged with delicate flavours of spices, and topped with pistachios and almonds and made in pure ghee. A unique blend of Phnaki Moshla, hilarious as the name might seem, adds to the delightful flavour of the rice, which is cooked in dum and is a wholesome meal by itself.

2. Chhenar Kalia

Bengali weddings are incomplete without at least one day’s menu having Chhenar kalia. A rich, thick gravy made with tomatoes, cashews and cream and added kofta balls of tasty chhena with the right amount of spices, its taste is loved by every vegetarian, across cultures. You may also use curd instead of tomatoes and top it with rich cow cream for a creamier texture.

3. Chhenar Dalna

A gentler, less spicy version of Chhenar Kalia, Chhenar dalna is more a part of a daily Bengali lunch than the latter. You can make this completely vegetarian, sans onion and garlic and add a tangy flavour instead with tomatoes lightly peppered with cumin and ginger paste. Do not forget to add a dollop of ghee at the end, before you set the pan aside.

4. Chhenar Kofta Curry

For the perfect Bengali festive carte, Chhenar Kofta Curry twinned with Basanti pulao is the best combination that tantalizes the taste buds of any Bengali food lover. Made with mashed potato mixed with chhena and tempered with ginger, cumin, and other spices in perfect quantities, the koftas are served with a scrumptious gravy, thick and with a dash of sweetened flavour added to it.

5. Chhena Bhurji

Finally for those who are a bit on the healthier side and would like to go for a quick evening snack, here is another variant of chhena that is tasty as well as nutritious to the core. Just as we have egg bhurji, or scrambled eggs with a Desi style, you can make chhena bhurji. All you need to have is some chopped onions and chopped green capsicum (you can add some red and yellow bell peppers too, if you wish to make it a colourful blend of nutrition) and simply toss them in a non-stick pan added with some salt and black pepper. Add the chhena and stir it for couple of minutes and your healthy evening snack is ready.

So the next time you are left wondering what to do with the curdled milk, try any of these chhena specialities. You are sure to love them to the last morsel.

About Author: Satarupa B. Kaur has been writing professionally since a decade now. Always on the go; she loves travel, books, playtime with her toddler as she explores new places and food!