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- Duration: 30 minutes
- Serves: 6 people
Spice Level: Zero
The paneer used in preparing Channar Payesh is kneaded using a special technique. For the last 5 minutes of kneading, only the palm of one hand is used to ensure the dough is evened out thoroughly. This simple trick, preserved over generations, gives this dish its highly refined authentic texture.
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Payesh was believed to have been first dish prepared in Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa, around 2000 years ago as prasad. However, food historians have since found its origins in Persia, where they treat it as the 'food of angels'. Today, Channar Payesh is a delicacy in Bengali households and is always cooked to mark special occasions like festivals, birthdays, or exams.
- Milk (full cream) (2 litres )
- Lemon juice (1 tbsp )
- Condensed milk (½ cup )
- Sugar (2 tbsp)
- Pistachio (pista), ground (few)
- Green cardamom (hari elaichi), pounded (3-4)
- Heat half the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium flame. Stir frequently to prevent it from getting burnt. The milk will start to thicken and slowly develop a brownish hue. Continue simmering till the milk becomes thick and creamy.
- While the milk is thickening, prepare the chhena (paneer). Heat the rest of the milk in another pan.
- Once it begins to boil, pour in the lemon juice. Reduce the flame and stir gently. The milk will curdle and segregate itself from the whey (a greenish liquid).
- Strain the chhena in a muslin cloth. Wash under cold running water to get rid of the lemony smell and then hang the cloth wrap for half an hour. (Check "Get It Right" on how to make softest paneer at home.)
- After the milk (in the other pan) is thickened, let it cool to room temperature. Then add the condensed milk, stirring gently. Set this aside.
- Remove the chhena from the cloth wrap and knead it well to make it soft and smooth. For an additional 5 minutes, make sure you use only the heel of your palm to do this.
- To make the chhena sweeter, add a pinch of sugar while kneading it.
- Add the chhena crumble to the thickened milk, stirring continuously.
- Then put it back on low flame and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. The consistency of the payesh should neither be as runny as the regular kheer nor too dry.
- Sprinkle pounded elaichi and mix well. Garnish with coarsely ground pistachios. Serve chilled.