Rasgullas (Spongy cheese balls in sugar syrup)

When I think of rasgullas (or rossogollas as the Bengalis say), it conjures up images of red cans of the famous K.C Das rasgullas  which were a must for all our relatives and friends when we used to return from visits to our grandparents’ home in Kolkata. While in Kolkata, we also used to devour fresh rasgullas that came in earthen pots from the nearby “mithai dukan” (sweet shop). Later on, many brands of rasgullas came in the market which were available all over India and even abroad but I found most of them too sweet and lacking the spongy texture of Bengali rasgullas.

While in India, I never dreamt of making them at home until my mother in law showed me how easy it was to make them. Easy ? OK,  I take my words back. I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and pressure cooker for the rasgullas (unlike my mother in law) which reduces the effort considerably but still if you are looking for a desi sweet to whip up in 15 minutes , this is not exactly the right choice. You could perhaps try something like Microwave Kalakand. However, if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, give it a try and InshaAllah (if God wills) you will find yourself patting your back.

Ingredients: ( For about 14 – 16  rasgullas)
Milk – 1 litre
White vinegar : 2-3 tablespoons (might require less)
Sugar – 1.5 cups
Water – 4.5 cups

For making the chenna / cheese:
1) Boil the milk , stirring occasionally so as not to burn it.
2) As soon as the milk comes to a boiling point, switch off the flame and start adding the vinegar one teaspoon at a time. Keep stirring and adding vinegar until the milk curdles and the whey ( greenish liquid part) separates from the milk. It’s important  to add just the right amount of vinegar to make the chenna otherwise it will be tough and consequently the rasgullas will also be tough.
3) Line a sieve/colander with a cheesecloth/muslin cloth and drain the whey. I use an old dupatta for this purpose.
4) Rinse the chenna under running water to remove the sourness of the vinegar.
5) Wrap the chenna in the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much water as you can. Then hang the cloth somewhere for an hour or so so that all the excess water drips out. It’s necessary to drain out all the water else it won’t be possible to form smooth balls. To test if chenna is ready , take a small amount on your palm and rub it with your thumb to make it smooth. Your palm should feel slightly greasy and you should be able to make a firm and smooth ball out of it. If not, you probably need to squeeze out more water.

Kneading the chenna:
Traditionally, the chenna is kneaded on a flat surface with the palm of your hands until it’s absolutely smooth . Once you rub the chenna with your palm , keep scooping it back and rubbing again until it’s absolutely smooth and you can make a ball out of it ( just like a ball of dough). If it feels too crumbly and dry and you can’t roll it into a ball, you can add a teaspoon or two of water and try again to make a ball.
I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer fitted with the dough hook to do the initial kneading. Just put the drained chenna in the bowl of the mixer and crumble it with your fingers. Knead on speed 2/3 for 5-6 minutes. Then knead for a couple of minutes more with your palm to form a soft dough-like ball.
I presume that a food processor fitted with a dough blade can also be used to do the initial kneading but I’m not sure how long it will take since I have not used it myself. It’s important to knead the chenna for just the right length of time so that it’s absolutely smooth but not over kneaded which is sometimes the case if we use machines.

Forming the rasgullas:
Divide the chenna into 14 – 16 pieces and make firm and smooth balls. The balls will become more than double  their original size after cooking, so keep that in mind while making them. The first time I made rasgullas I ended up with gigantic ones.

Cooking the rasgullas:
1) Take a pressure cooker (at least 3 litres volume) and combine the water and sugar in it. Cook on medium heat till the syrup boils.
2) Slowly add the chenna balls to the syrup and close the lid. Increase the flame to high.
3) As soon as the pressure cooker starts steaming, lower the heat to medium and cook for about 7 minutes.
4) Remove from heat and wait for few minutes for the steam to escape.Pour cold water over the pressure cooker before opening.
5) Open the pressure cooker and transfer the rasgullas to a bowl when they are a bit cool. Chill well in the refrigerator before serving. While hot, the rasgullas will seem very fragile but after chilling for a few hours they will become spongy.

1) Rasgullas freeze very well . Just put them in  single layer in a flat covered container and freeze along with the syrup. Thaw in refrigerator before serving.
2) If you want to serve rasgullas in a different way you can try this . Squeeze out the syrup from the rasullas. Add this syrup to some light cream/table cream or if you do not want the cream to be watery you can sweeten it with sugar instead of the sugar syrup. Add the rasgullas to the cream. Drizzle some chocolate syrup and top with some crushed nut brittle ( chikki ).
3) Some people place a crystal of mishri in the centre while making the balls . The  mishri melts while cooking and enhances the texture of the rasgullas.
4) Kewra / cardamom can be added for flavouring the syrup, though I prefer the rasgullas plain.
5) Rasgullas are also used for making Ras Malai, another very popular Indian delicacy.

This is a great dessert to make on any festive occasion and much healthier than most desserts that are loaded with ghee/butter/nuts. With Eid ul Adha and Diwali round the corner you can practise making these a few days in advance to get each step right and then wow your guests during the festivities.

I am linking this post to the following events:
Feast of Sacrifice hosted by My Healthy happy Kitchen
Festive Food hosted by Cuisine Delights
Diwali Bash hosted by Cooks Joy
Celebrate Navratri/Diwali guest hosted by Simply Food and started by Jagruti’s Cooking Odyssey
Milk Sweet Recipes hosted by My Culinary Creations

24 comments on “Rasgullas (Spongy cheese balls in sugar syrup)

  1. Hi, Great Recipe, I just want to know what if you don’t use a pressure cooker, then how would you make them?

  2. Thanks for stopping by. I am sorry I have not tried this recipe without a pressure cooker. I have seen my mother in law cook it in a covered pan on high heat but I am not really sure about the time it takes.

  3. Hi Vanshika, Thanks for stopping. There are to main reasons because of which rasgullas become brittle, either the right amount of water was not drained from the paneer or it was not kneaded well.

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