Few days back, I attempted Rasagulla recipe and after its grand success at home, I was tempted to try out another one of our very favorite Bengali sweets – Rajbhog. Rasagullas are fairly available in even small stores, thanks to the tinned versions of Haldirams. Unlike Rasagullas, Rajbhog is seen only in specialty sweet shops and I saw it for the first time only in Bangalore. To look at it, it seems like a bigger version of Rasagulla which is yellow in color. And that is partly true. Preparing Rajbhog is quite similar to that of Rasagulla. In the olden days, this sweet was prepared for the Kings and consisted of different nuts and dry fruits. Saffron, which was affordable only by rich people was used in preparing this sweet making it very rich in taste and hence the name Rajbhog.
I used full fat milk to prepare Rajbhog and that is something I am sure not going to try the next time. The amount of Chenna/milk curds was good compared to that of the toned milk but the fat content of the milk curds made it quite difficult to roll out the Rajbhog. I used almonds, cashews and pistachios to fill the Rajbhog and this is something that can customized. In the account of no saffron strands, one can use yellow food color.
To make Rajbhog
Serves – 4
Time to prepare – 45mins
What I used –
- Milk, 1 ltr
- Sugar, 2 cups
- Lemon Juice/Vinegar, 2 tbsp
- Mix of Almonds, Cashews and Pistachios, 3 tbsp (finely chopped)
- Rose Essence, ½ tsp
- Saffron, a few strands
- Water, 2 cups + additional
How I made –
- Bring milk to boil and remove it off the flame. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. Mix some water with 2 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice. Slowly add it to the boiled milk and stir continuously.
- Milk would be curdled in about a couple of minutes. When the whey (water separated from the milk curds) is transparent, strain it on to a thin muslin cloth.
- Bring the ends of the cloth together and gently squeeze to remove excess water. Run through some plain water to remove the smell/taste of vinegar/lemon juice.
- Tie the cloth in to a knot and hang it on to a kitchen cupboard handle and let the excess water drip for atleast 20mins.
- Remove the milk curds on to a plate and knead it gently using your palm until the texture is smooth. It should resemble chapati dough when formed into a big ball.
- Meanwhile, add 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water to a wide pot and boil until all sugar is dissolved. Add saffron/food color to it along with the rose essence. Reduce the flame.
- Make equal sized (but bigger sized) balls of the kneaded milk curds. To make Rajbhog, take a ball and flatten it out (not too thin). Place a strand of saffron and ½ tsp of finely chopped nuts in the center. Bring the ends of the flattened ball together and make it into a smooth ball again. If the ball is pressed too hard, it might break and the filling might come out. Ensure there are no cracks on the balls prepared.
- When the sugar syrup is boiling, add the Rajbhog balls into it. Let the syrup boil on medium flame and cover it with a lid. Every five minutes, pour some water from the sides of the pot to ensure that the syrup doesn’t get too thick. Repeat this for 15-20mins.
- The Rajbhog balls should have doubled in size now. Turn off the heat. Let it cool down completely. Refrigerate for 3-4hrs before serving.
Note: Over-kneading the milk curds can separate out the fat content. If the milk curds have more moisture, the cooked Rajbhog can turn flat and if the milk curds are very dry, Rajbhog can turn very hard. Saffron can be replaced with yellow food color. Typically, Rajbhog is larger in size compared to Rasagullas. Make bigger sized balls and ensure that the pot with the sugar syrup is wide enough to let all the Rajbhog balls swim freely while cooking.