I was introduced to this lovely dish of chanar kalia by the Bengali restaurants , where it is always served as a vegetarian delicacy and must have on lavish buffet spread that these restaurants often boast off and believe me, I was seriously bowled over by its sheer taste and flavour. This is generally not the usual way to prepare chanar kalia at home, but I must say this is one of the dish you must try at home.
Chana / or the cheese (but is very different from the way cheese is understood in western world) is the one ingredient which is omnipresent throughout the Bengali cuisine and culture. Give a pound of fresh chana to a Bengali cook / chef and he /she will mould it into endless varieties of sondesh / sandesh or fudge, rosogolla / rasgulla, kalakand, chamchams, rasmalai, chanar payesh / pudding one can think of, and some goes to the extent of making chanar kalia, koftas, kormas, pulao / pilaf and so on…
Here innovation is the key and imagination is stressed as far as possible and result is a beautiful melange of chana / cheese with the aromatic spices.
This recipe of chanar kalia calls for fresh home-made chana, you can try it with paneer (not the stiff and hard pressed one ) also, vegans can opt for tofu. If you are wondering how to prepare fresh home-made chana, you can refer the pictorial description given here.
For this recipe, fresh home-made chana is kneaded well to make it more softer, addition of all-purpose flour will make it firm, small roundels will be first fried in oil and then simmered in spicy gravy.
My innovative touch : while making the roundels of chana, I stuff it with raisins and shredded cheese. Yes, it sounds too cheesy but once you take a bite and let the soft warm cheese melts in your mouth, you will definitely love it. If you are not a cheese person, then please feel free to omit it and follow the rest of the recipe.
Chana (fresh home-made) : 300 gm
All purpose flour / maida : 1 tbsp
Raisins : a handful
Onion paste : 1 tbsp
Ginger paste : 1 tbsp
Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
Red chilli powder : 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder : 1/4 tsp
Cumin paste : 1 tsp
Whole garam masala (that includes few cloves, green cardamoms, cinnamon stick and bay leaf)
Sugar and salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying
Mix the chana with all-purpose flour and salt, knead it extremely well to make a soft and firm dough.
Divide the chana dough into equal portions and make flat roundels of medium size.
You can stuff this roundels with raisins and shredded cheese or just leave it like that. Choice is yours. But point to note that, if you are stuffing it then make sure it does not comes out of it when you are frying it in hot oil.
Heat enough oil for shallow frying and fry the chana roundels till golden brown. Blot them on a tissue paper to get rid off the excess oil. Keep them aside.
For the gravy : In the same oil (take out the extra oil if you think it is excess for gravy) add the whole garam masala and let the aroma filled your kitchen.
Next add the onion paste and fry till it turns brown. Add the ginger paste and saute further till its rawness disappear. Now add the cumin paste, red chilli powder and turmeric powder and fry for few more minutes. Sprinkle the garam masala powder over it, add the sugar and salt to taste, mix well. Add 2 cups of water and let it reach to its boiling point.
Gently drop the chana roundels, cover and simmer on low heat for 5-7 minutes till it soak some of the gravy.
Take off from the heat and serve the hot chanar kalia with phulko luchi / poori or kaju-kismis pulao.
Sending this wonderful chanar kalia / curried cheese dumplings to the event:
C for colorful curry hosted by womens era 2008