Thursday, 22 May 2014

Bengal Special Chena Kofta Curry (Paneer/Cottage Cheese Balls in aSpicy Gravy) - No Onion No Garlic

The three week long pure vegetarian saga has reached its finale and I bid adieu to my dear inlaws last evening. While the stay was quite enjoyable and I managed to give them some good memories of their stay in Singapore, I had to really rack my brains and do intensive search for doable and quick no onion no garlic dishes with some variety. They enjoyed most of my dishes and were really happy and amazed to see my enthusiasm in the kitchen which they had never seen before. So all in all, it was a good experience for me in the kitchen and by the end of it, I can now confidently cook a no onion no garlic dish with a wonderful variety. I had planned today's dish as the finale dish as it required some previous night preparation and takes a little more time to be prepared than the other regular dishes. The koftas were a star and I could just gobble them up as is. So yummy they were! Try out these koftas with any kind of gravy you want and you are sure to be blessed! :)

For the Koftas
1 liter milk (use full cream for a more creamier paneer)
1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
1 small potato boiled and mashed (I used leftover potato from the previous day's Dum Aaloo)
2 tbsp Semolina (add little at a time as required but not exceeding the recommended quantity) 
Seasoning of your choice (cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli powder, etc. I did not add as I was using the Dum Aaloo leftover)
Salt as per taste
Freshly chopped coriander leaves (optional; use very little)
Few cashews (roughly chopped) and raisins for stuffing
Oil for frying

For the Gravy
1 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 each of cloves, cinammon, and cardamom roughly thrashed
1 tsp ginger finely grated or paste
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 black pepper powder
1 medium tomato finely chopped or pureed
2-3 heaped tbsp yogurt
1 scant tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing (you can add a fistful of leaves while pureeing the tomatoes, optionally)

For the koftas
Bring the milk to a boil and add the vinegar. The milk will immediately separate leaving the whey in the bottom while the chena or paneer will be floating on top. Place a muslin cloth in a colander and gently drain the liquid through it and holding back the chena in the cloth. Run the chena in cold water a few times to get rid of the smell of vinegar or lemon. Now tightly close the mouth of the muslin cloth and let the water drain off completely. I kept the paneer parcel in the colander and kept the colander on top of a big vessel to hold the liquid while keeping a weight on top of the tied cloth. Within 30 minutes , all the water would have dried out and then you can either use it right away or keep it in the refrigerator tied up in the cloth for use the next day. I had prepared it the night before and kept it in the refrigerator for use in the morning. How pretty and firm it looked!

Now, break the chenna with your hands and add all the ingredients, except the cashews and raisins, listed above to make the koftas. Mash and mix everything well. Now pinch out small balls out of this mixture and put a few cashews and raisins in the center and make small balls, ensuring that the cashews or raisins do not ooze out. 

Heat oil in a small deep bottomed wok and fry the koftas till golden brown. Remove from heat and drain the excess oil in kitchen napkins and keep aside.
 Making the Gravy
Heat oil in a pan and add the whole spices, cumin seeds, and heeng and fry till a lovely aroma emanates. Mix the ginger, cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli, and turmeric powder in 2 tbsp water and add it to the pan. Fry till oil starts coming out from the sides. Now add the tomatoes and continue frying till they are completely mushy and oil comes out again. Whip the yogurt and add it to the pan while lowering the flame. Stir and mix well. When the raw smell of the yogurt disappears and the masala starts to thicken, add the salt, sugar and 1 cup warm water and bring it to a boil. Put a cover and let the gravy simmer on medium heat till desired consistency is achieved. 
Now place the fried koftas in the serving dish and pour the gravy on top. Garnish with coriander leaves and keep covered until served. Adding the koftas directly to the pan and later transferring to a serving dish might result in breakage.


  1. Hi Priyanka, This looks like an interesting and different recipe. Kudos to you for making paneer the way it should be. Since I love bengali cuisine I am an ardent fan of your recipes :-) I also reside in Singapore and tried almost all the brands of milk available but never succeeded in making soft and creamy paneer. Can you please do me a favor and let me know which brand you used? I want to make this in Diwali. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Praneeta, thank you for stopping by. I am glad you like my recipes. I use any full cream milk like Marigold, Farmhouse, or Magnolia. Do not use the UHT milk for making paneer as it won't curdle. Hope that helps.

  2. Thanks a ton :-) will try it soon and let you know the outcome. I tried Amul Full cream but went in vain. I skipped Farm house don't know how :-( thanks once again.


  3. Lots of great looking dishes here! I can't keep up with all the dishes I want to make...there's always so many good ones :)
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