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Wine & Dine
July 18, 2005

Creme de la Creme

Photographs by Ian Perreira. Cottage cheese desserts by pastry chef, Ashish Janardhan, Hyatt Regency, Mumbai

Verve goes soft on sweetened cottage cheese

Cottage cheese or paneer – as it is popularly called in its desi avatar – is the most malleable of all vegetarian foods. Easy to make and easy to digest, it is a rich storehouse of nutrients and is a popular item on the menu of private dinners and public celebrations. Infinitely more loved than leafy greens and a step ahead of the ubiquitous potato, paneer, the final result of curdled milk, draws equal amounts of admiration in its spicy preparations, as also when it masquerades as a spongy dessert. Any foodie worth his sugar is familiar with the all-important role that paneer plays in deliciously creamy creations that tease the taste buds. A delicately crafted fruity paneer tart that crumbles at first bite, or a light as air cheesecake promising bliss with each slice, are but a few after-dinner concoctions whipped up to tempt the most reined in sweet tooth. Apart from providing stiff competition to chocolate-smothered goodies, paneer-based desserts offer an interesting alternative. Milk gone sour never tasted this good!

Actor-director-writer, Rahul Bose, says, “I love paneer-based desserts, specially the more traditional mithais, like rosogullas and chum chums that are so popular in Kolkata. In fact, I prefer them to chocolate confections. Since I am not too fond of spicy food, I don’t really care for the tangy taste of paneer in its more piquant version.”

Citrus Paneer Cheesecake

Ingredients: Grated paneer, 400 gms; Sour cream, 140 gms; Sugar, 100 gms; Fresh cream, 150 gms; Eggs, 250 gms; Egg whites, 100 gms; Sugar (for meringue), 80 gms; Cornstarch, 45 gms; Vanilla essence; 3 gms; Lemon zest, 1 no; Orange zest, 1 no.

Method: Grate the paneer, add the sour cream and blend finely. Mix the sugar, fresh cream and the eggs till smooth. Make a meringue and add the cornstarch to it. Fold it into the cheesecake mix. Layer the base of the cake ring with cookie base.

Method for cookie base: Mix the finely powdered malt cookies with melted butter till binding consistency. Pour the cake mix and bake at 150° on a water bath (bain-marie) for 40-45 minutes.

Paneer And Banana Crumble Tart

Ingredients: Grated paneer, 200 gms; Bananas (chopped), 350 gms; Brown sugar, 100 gms; Butter, 70 gms; Egg yolks, 5 nos; Cornstarch, 10 gms; Chocolate chips, 80 gms; Vanilla essence, 5 ml.

Ingredients for crumble: Flour, 150 gms; Sugar, 150 gms; Butter, 100 gms.

Ingredients for tart base: Flour, 240 gms; Butter, 160 gms; Sugar, 80 gms; Eggs, 3 nos; Egg Yolk, 1 no.

Method for banana filling: Cook the bananas, brown sugar and butter till the bananas are half cooked. Mix the egg yolk, vanilla essence and the cornstarch with the mixture above. Finally, add the grated paneer and the chocolate chips.

Method for crumble: Mix the flour and sugar. Rub in the butter till texture becomes crumbly. Pre-bake the tart base, fill in the banana mixture and sprinkle the crumble on top. Bake the tart at 175°C till the crumble turns a gold brown.

Method for tart base: Cream the butter and sugar and gradually mix in the eggs. Do not aerate the mixture. Fold in the flour. Rest the dough in the chiller for 30 mins before rolling out.

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