Chenna Tarakari is a curry made out of deep fried fresh chenna i.e fresh cottage cheese. Fresh chenna is kneaded till smooth and oily. Then made into small balls,deep fried then added to Onion- tomato based gravy. This curry is made in almost every household in Odisha and West Bengal.The crispy chenna balls soaks up all the gravy and becomes melt-in-mouth.
Chenna is widely used in for making sweets. Starting from rasagulla ,chenna poda, chenna gaja the list can go on and on. Apart from sweets chenna is also used to make delicious curry, bhaja (fritters) etc. I have grown up eating this delicious curry. Mom used to make it mostly on Monday as it a meatless day. In fact even now I follow that trend and make this curry mostly on Mondays or on Saturday. I always make some extra dumplings because the plain fried ones are quite addictive too. My daughter loves them and she always asks for the fried ones like ‘Mamma Can I have one more please?’ .
The key here is to get the chenna balls right.
- Once you make the chenna drain all the water out of it. It should neither be too watery or too dry.
- The second thing is kneading. Knead the chenna till smooth and feels little oily. Chenna should no look no more granular and when you form balls it should be smooth with no/little cracks.
- Third thing is oil temperate while frying. The oil should be high-medium hot. When you add the chenna balls they will start floating on top. Then reduce the heat and fry till golden brown in color.
Gravy for this is usually a light Onion-tomato based gravy. Sometime on festivals I also make no Onion-Garlic gravy.
Chenna Tarkari ( Fried Cottage Cheese Ball Curry)
- 1 litter milk (don't use skimmed milk)
- 1 lemon Juice of
- 2 tspn Rava/Sooji
- Oil For deep frying
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cardamom
- 2 Clove
- 1 Small stick of Cinammon
- 2 dry red chili
- 1 Bay leaf
- 2 medium onion Finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Ginger garlic paste Fresh
- 1 large Toamto Chopped
- 1/2 tspn Coriander powder
- 1 tspn Cumin Powder
- 1 tspn garam masala
- 1/2 tspn turmeric powder
- 1 tspn red chili powder
- 1 large potato Boild and cubed
- 1/2 cup Fresh Coriander leaf Chopped
- Boil milk in a big pot. Make sure it doesn't burn underneath. Once the milk comes to a boil, lower heat and boil for another couple of minutes.
- Mix 2 tbsp of water to freshly squeezed lemon juice. Slowly add the mixture to the boiling milk, stirring continuously. When milk starts to curdle stop stirring. Let it heat for 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Then switch of the gas.
- Let the curdled mixture stand for 5 minutes undisturbed. Place a big sieve on a big vessel. Pour curdled milk to the sieve carefully.
- After the mixture is transferred to the sieve, run the sieve under running tap water and carefully wash the chenna to get rid of any lemon residue. ( Rub chenna gently else it will break to granules and washed away). This step also helps chenna being overcooked from the heat with in.
- Place the sieve back on the vessel and press chenna gently with tip of your hand to drain as much water as possible. Let it rest for another 30 minutes.
- Alternatively after washing chenna sift it to a cheese cloth. Tie a knot, squeeze gently and hang in the kitchen counter for about one hour.
- Mean while heat oil in a pan. Add 1 tbsp oil. When the oil is hot add boiled cubed potatoes. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat undisturbed. Then turn and cook another side for 3-4 minutes. Fry it potatoes are golden in color. Remove and keep aside.
- Add rest of the oil to the pan. When hot add whole garam masala. Let it splutter and aromatic.
- Then add finely chopped onions. Add a pinch of salt to soften the onions fast. Fry for 5-6 minutes.
- When onion starts browning add ginger-garlic paste. Fry till raw smell is gone.
- Add chopped tomato. Cook till soft and mushy. Add all the spice powder except garam masala. Fry till everything is mixed well and oil starts to separate.
- Add potatoes. Coat fried potatoes well with the mixture. Fry for another 5 minutes.
- Add garam masala. Add enough water for the gravy.( I add roughly 3-4 cups of water. Keep in mind that after adding the chenna balls they soak up all the gravy). Cover and let it come to a boil.
- While the gravy is boiling, in another pan add enough oil for deep frying. Let it heat.
- Remove the chenna from cheese cloth and place in a vessel(By now chenna would have been dry enough and most of the water would have been drained)
- Add sooji. Knead chenna with the heel of your palm till smooth and soft. Your hands should feel little greasy and when you form a ball there should not be any cracks.
- Take 1/2 tbsp of chenna and make small ball. Slightly flatten it in between your palms. Repeat with rest of the chenna.
- Add chenna balls to hot oil (not smoking hot) in batches. Don't over crowd the pan. When the chenna balls rises up and start to float lower the heat and let the balls cook on low heat undisturbed for 2-3 minutes.
- Carefully turn each ball and let the other side cook till nice golden brown in color.
- Remove the balls from oil using a slotted spoon and spread on kitchen tissue paper.
- Repeat the process for rest of the chenna balls.
- While frying the chenna balls the gravy would have come to a nice boil and would have thickened a little bit. Switch of the gas and keep aside.
- If serving right away then add the balls to gravy. Let it cook for 5 minutes. Don't stir else they chenna balls will break. Serve immediately .
- If not serving right away, re-heat the gravy just before serving, add chenna balls, cook for 5 minutes.