This month's edition of Indian Cooking Challenge features a traditional cake from the state of Orissa in the Eastern part of India. I came to know that Chenna Poda means burnt paneer. When Srivalli published the basic recipe, I was a little concerned as she had mentioned that the caramelized sugar gives it a distinct taste. But after tasting the cake, I totally agree with the statement.
The whole process of preparing the fresh paneer to slicing the cake and popping into my mouth was totally worth the time and effort.
Source - Titillating Tastebuds and Anyone Can Cook
For Fresh Cheese - makes 1 1/2 cups of cheese(fresh paneer)
Milk 3 ltrs
Lemon Juice or vinegar 1/4 cup
For the Cake -
Fresh cheese 1 1/2 cups
Sugar 3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp (or as per taste)
Semolina / Sooji / Rava 1 Tbsp soaked in 3 Tbsp of water for 10-15 min
Raisins 1 Tbsp
Cashews and Almonds chopped 2 Tbsp
Cardamom Powder 1 tsp
Ghee / Clarified Butter 1 tsp
For the Caramel -
Sugar 1/4 cup
Water 2 Tbsp
Method Of Preparation -
To prepare the fresh cheese (paneer) -
Boil milk in a sauce pan and add lemon juice or vinegar.
Remove from fire, cover with a lid and in a few minutes, the milk separates into watery whey and curds. Add ice cubes so the curdling process stops or slows down.
While it is still warm, place a colander over a clean pan. Spread a wet muslin cloth and pour the hot milk to separate the whey and curds. The curd here is known as paneer / chenna or cottage cheese.
Hang the paneer in the muslin cloth for 15 minutes until all the water is drained out.
To Prepare the Cake Dough -
In a heated pan, add a few drops of ghee and fry the cashews, raisins and almonds until golden brown. Set it aside.
In a mixing bowl, add the drained paneer or chenna, sugar, the fried nuts and raisins, cardamom powder and soaked and drained semolina.
Knead well to get a very soft chenna dough.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare a baking pan by greasing it.
To Prepare the Caramel and the Cake -
In a heavy bottomed pan, boil sugar and water until it is almost crystallized.
We got to be very quick here else the sugar will solidify and get burnt.
So start the caramel process after the paneer dough is ready and the oven is almost preheated.
As soon as the caramel is done, spread it evenly in the greased baking pan and pat the chenna dough evenly.
Loosely cover the pan with an aluminium foil to avoid browning of the top.
Bake it for 50-60 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let it cool for an hour or so, run a knife around the edges to make sure it is not stuck and invert the cake, slice and enjoy!
Refrigerate the unused cake and reheat just before serving!
Preparation Time 40 min + Baking Time 1 hr + Cooling Time 1 hr
Makes 6 X 2 X 1 1/2 and a smaller 2 inch round cake