Chhanar Koptakari (kofta curry) is our favourite from the vast repertoire of chhana or paneer-based recipes in the Bengali cuisine. Unlike the regular chhanar/paneer dalna, the chhanar borar dalna requires a bit more work in forming and frying the koftas, and then making the curry. The browning of the koftas also creates a far more interesting texture and flavour contrast compared to plain chhana/paneer. It takes a little over an hour to make this, but you will be rewarded with juicy sponges soaked with the ginger-cumin-ghee flavoured curry. Since this dish is quite rich, pair this with a sparingly spiced dal (such as Bengali masoor dal with radhuni tempering). It can also compliment a light Bengali-style fried rice.
For the kofta
- 2 L milk (or 500 g paneer/chhana)
- 40 ml vinegar (if making chhana from scratch)
- 2 g salt
- 20 g sugar
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp gorom moshla
- 4 green chillies (finely chopped)
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 20 g maida (all-purpose flour)
- 30 raisins
- mustard oil (for frying)
For the gravy
- 2 dried red chillies
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cardamom
- 2 cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 225 g potatoes (3-cm cubes)
- 15 g tomato
- 2½ tsp cumin powder
- 1½ tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp red chilli powder
- 10 g ginger paste
- ¼ tsp gorom moshla
- 4 green chillies
- 10 g salt
- 16 g sugar
- 325 ml hot water
Make the koftas
- Heat milk to a point when it just starts to bubble on the sides of the pan (75–85°C). Add the vinegar, quickly mix it in, and turn off the heat.
- Cover the saucepan and let it stand for about 10 minutes (heat off).
- When the whey has separated, strain over a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
- Transfer the resultant "chhana" (cottage cheese) to a mixing bowl. Add salt, sugar, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric, gorom moshla, green chillies, ghee and maida, and mix everything thoroughly.
- Divide into roughly 16 g portions. Place a raisin at the centre of each ball and roll it close smooth. Flatten slightly between your palms to form a disc.
- Fry them in hot mustard oil until brown. Set aside.
Make the gravy
- Remove extra oil from the pan, leaving behind only about 40 g. We will use this to cook the gravy in.
- Temper it with dried red chillies, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and cumin seeds.
- Add potatoes and fry for 4 minutes (with 2 g salt) until golden.
- Add tomatoes and continue cooking until they soften.
- In a small bowl, make a spice slurry by mixing turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder with water. Add this to the pan and braise on low heat until the smell of raw spices dissipates.
- Add ginger paste and gorom moshla, and continue cooking.
- When the spices have been cooked well, add hot water to form the gravy.
- Add the remaining salt (8 g) and all the sugar (16 g).
- When the gravy comes to a boil gently lower the koftas one by one. Make sure they are submerged, but be careful not to stir too vigorously or the koftas may break.
- Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes or so, before finish with ghee and
- gorom moshla.