Friday, October 17, 2014

Langcha


As Diwali is around the corner its time to indulge yourself into the sweetness of the sweets without having the guilt of those extra pounds gained from them. Diwali or Deepawali is a festival of lights. It signifies the victory of light over the darkness, good over the evil. On Diwali night people dress up their best and decorate their home with Diyas and workship Lakshmi: the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. The Puja is followed by fireworks and the grand feast including sweets. So, I thought of sharing a very popular Bengali sweet "Langcha" on this festive occasion.

Langcha is a Bengali dessert that originated in Shaktigarh in the Burdwan district of West Bengal, India. But now you can find it in any sweet shop of Kolkata. Moreover some of the well known brands also sell them in cans. 

Langcha is made up of sweetened cottage cheese (chena), khoa (reduced solidified milk), and flour. There is another form of Langcha which is known as Pantua. Basically the difference between Langcha and Pantua is in their shape. Langcha is cylindrical shaped while the other one is round.

Cottage cheese is widely used in many Indian sweets. You can use store-bought cottage cheese or make it very easily at home. However, I would suggest you to make cheese at home to ensure its purity. Any adulterated or inferior cheese can ruin your Langcha or Pantua.


Ingredients:


For Making Cottage Cheese(Chena):

1. Milk : 1 liter
2. Lime Juice : 4 tbsp (mix with 1 tbsp of water)

For Making Langcha:

1. Cottage Cheese (Chena) : 200 grams
2. Khoa (Solidified Milk) : 100 grams
3. Flour : 2 tbsp
4. Sugar : 1 tbsp
5. Baking Powder : 1/4 tsp
6. Cardamoms(crushed) : 4-5
7. Ghee : 1 tbsp
8. Oil : For frying
9. Almonds(for garnishing) 

For Making Sugar Syrup:
1. Sugar : 5 cups
2. Water : 2 cups
3. Cardamoms(crushed) : 4-5


Method:


For Making Homemade Chena(Cottage Cheese):

1. Boil the milk in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat. Stir it continuously as it tends to stick to the bottom.

2. As milk starts boiling reduce the heat to low. Take small amount of milk in a ladle and add lime juice to it until milk (in the ladle) starts curdling. Then add this curdled milk into the pan and stir slowly until milk solids and whey (green color water) gets separated (you can add more lime juice if required but don't add too much because it will leave a sour taste and the chena will get firm). I like to curdle milk like this because this makes the process of curdling easier.

3. Strain the curdled milk with a muslin cloth or a strainer lined with cotton cloth. Once all the water gets drained wash the chena under cold running water. This helps the chena to cool down and will remove its sourness.

4. Squeeze the excess water from the chena (don't overdo it otherwise the chena will become too dry) and hang it on the kitchen tap for around an hour to remove any excess water. Now your chena is ready for making Langcha.

For Making Sugar Syrup: 

1. Take a heavy bottomed pan add sugar and water and place it on medium heat. Stir in between and remove the scums (if any).

2. Once sugar is dissolved completely reduce the heat and add crushed cardamoms. 

For Making Langcha:

1. Mash the chena with your palms until its smooth. As you do so your palms will become greasy which is due to the fat present in the chena. 

2. I used store bought khoa so I grated it first and then mashed it until its smooth.


3. Now mix chena, khoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, crushed cardamoms and ghee. Knead it well with your palms until there are no lumps. The dough will be greasy and you will be able to feel it.

4. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow it to rest for 10-15 mins.

5. Now make equal sized round balls from the dough and shape them into long cylinders with the help of your palms. 

6. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Once ready remove the oil from heat, wait for a minute and add Langcha's carefully (few at a time as they tend to increase in size and should have room for frying evenly). Place the pan on heat again and fry them till they get a nice brown color. 

7. Take out the fried Langcha and place them on a plate lined with paper towel to soak excess oil. Now add fried Langcha in sugar syrup very carefully as they are very delicate. Make sure the syrup is hot. 

8. Soak the Langcha in the sugar syrup for an hour and Voila!! your Langcha is ready to serve. Garnish it with almonds if you like or enjoy your syrupy Langcha as it is.


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