Festivals in India are incomplete without having family , friends or near and dear ones around, the elaborate menus in the home kitchens, the glittering shops loaded with tons of festival related food, attires, colourful decorative materials , bubbling, excited kids and most important the SWEETS...yeah, we generally relate sweets with festivals in India. If shops are stacking Modak, then be sure, Ganesh Chaturthi is round the corner, similarly, Gujiya during Holi, Rava ladoo during Onam, all sorts of assorted sweets during Diwali, Sevaiyan Kheer on Id, Till ladoo for Lohri, Makar sankranti, Gudi padva etc. adds a sweet touch in our lives during joyous moments.
And since Indians are right now celebrating festivals like Ramadan and Onam, and many are looking forward to Rakhsha Bandhan, Janmashtmi, Ganesh Chaturthi etc....we at Beyondcurries , very obviously are sharing the recipes of Sweets (Mithai, Halwa etc) to celebrate the spirit of festivals in coming days.
So coming up today , is a popular Bengali Mithai, called Malai Sandwich, obviously because it is a sandwich of Malai (Cream/khoya) in between two layers of sweetened Chenna Paneer ( Indian Cheese).
Kindly note:The paneer layer in this recipe is thick one, since we like our Bengali sweets to be thick, but you can make as thin or as thick as you prefer.
Recipe: Malai Sandwich (Cheese sandwiches stuffed with sweet filling)
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes (For boiling milk, curdling and straining) 6-7 hours of chilling
Cooking Time: 25 minutes if cooking in open vessel or 8 minutes if cooking in pressure cooker
Shelf Life: Milk Products are best consumed within 24 hours
Recipe Level: Medium
Recipe/Post by: Alka
For Chenna PaneerProcedure:
1 lit of milk (Use milk with atleast 2 % or above fat content)
Few spoons of lime juice or citric acid (To curdle milk)
For Sugar syrup:
2 and 1/4 cups of sugar
About 5 cups of water
Few Cardamons crushed
Few drops of Rose Essence(Optional)
For making Sandwich
1/2 to 1 tsp of Sooji/rawa/semolina
A pinch of baking powder
1/2 cup of Sweet Mawa/ Khoya/ Malai/ Rabri
2-3 tsp of sugar (Or as per taste).You can also use icing sugar
A pinch of saffron soaked in a spoonful of milk (optional)
Yellow or pink colour ...Few drops ( Highly optional, Not used in this recipe)
Some unsalted pistachios sliced finely
Varq (optional....again, Not Used in this recipe )
Pressure cooker(Makes life easy) or else any wide, thick bottomed pan.
- For making chenna, first boil the milk in thick bottomed pan.
- When it reaches boiling point, lower the flame and slowly add few spoons of lemon juice . Keep stirring and if needed add few more drops of juice until the milk curdles properly and whey is separated. Strain through Muslin cloth (Do not discard this Whey, use it to add nutritional value to Dal or use it for kneading dough for Roti/chapati.
- Run cold water over the separated paneer (To get rid off, that Lemony/citrus flavor from Paneer). Squeeze out excess water, and hang the cloth for 5-8 minutes to completely separate the whey from paneer.But do not let it rest more than 20 minutes.
- Now knead this chenna paneer along with 1/2 tsp of semolina and a pinch of baking powder, for 5-8 minutes till a very smooth dough is obtained, that is easily rolled into a ball without any cracks on surface (You can use food possessor for this, I didn't) .
- Pinch very small piece of this dough and roll it into small, smooth Square shape.Keep the size medium, as they tend to swell up, more than double of their original size after being cooked in syrup. Repeat the procedure till all the dough is used up.
- In the meantime, take a pressure cooker (or any thick bottomed vessel) and add sugar and water along with crushed cardamoms and let it boil till sugar dissolves.
- Carefully drop all the chenna paneer squares in the boiling syrup and close the lid of pressure cooker (or cover it with a lid if making in open vessel).
- Wait for 1 whistle (or boil for 20-25 minutes in open vessel). Lower the flame and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
- Put off the flame and let the pressure release from cooker. Now you should have soft spongy, sweetened, double the original size, squares of paneer.
- At this stage you can add few drops of rose essence in syrup, though it's completely optional.
- Transfer the cooked paneer squares along with the syrup into a bowl and let it cool till it room temperature. Later, Refrigerate for 6-7 hours in same syrup to chill.
- Now take the stuffing that you are using ,add powdered or icing sugar and mix well . At this stage you can mix the soaked saffron to enhance the flavors.But kindly use less of milk to soak saffron if you are using Malai, as it will dilute the consistency further.
- Now slice horizontally in the center each square of paneer, and place a spoonful of stuffing on one of the slice, and cover it with another slice, pressing gently. Instead of completely slicing apart, you can cut the square till 3/4 th, leaving the ends joined with each other. Repeat the process for all the squares.
- Garnish it with some finely sliced(slivers) pistachios and Varq (Optional)
- You can serve it immediately or after chilling. Enjoy !