Made throughout the Indian Subcontinent, but particularly loved by Bengalis, this dessert consists of fresh cheese balls which are simmered, then soaked in a saffron sugar syrup. You will need a colander, a thermometer and a large piece of muslin for this recipe.
- 1 litre unhomogenised full-cream milk
- 250 ml (1 cup) pouring cream
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) white vinegar
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
Saffron sugar syrup
- 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- roasted flaked almonds, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 6 hours 30 minutes
Place milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat until the temperature reaches 90°C on a cooking thermometer. Stir in vinegar and continue to stir for 1 minute to evenly disperse. Remove from heat and set aside for 30 minutes or until the curds and whey separate.
Set a colander over a bowl and line with enough muslin to overhang by 8 cm. Using a slotted spoon, transfer curds to colander (discarding whey). Cover curd with overhanging muslin and place a weight on top. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
Meanwhile, to make syrup, place sugar and 250 ml (1 cup) water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to a simmer, add saffron and cook for 10 minutes or until thickened. Transfer to a bowl, cool completely, then stir through lemon juice. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Place strained paneer in a bowl with flour and sugar. Using your hands, mix to combine. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until mixture comes together. Divide into 12 even balls. Roll each ball between your palms until very smooth, ensuring that there are no cracks in the surface.
Working in 2 batches, place in a pan of gently simmering water and cook for 15 minutes or until spongy. Remove using a slotted spoon and place in chilled syrup. Refrigerate for 2 hours to infuse. Serve scattered with roasted almonds.
Photography by Chris Chen. Food preparation by Phoebe Wood. Food styling by Justine Poole.
As seen in Feast magazine, August 2014, Issue 34.