Nachiketa DasDessertBengalinolen gurer cheesecake, nolen gur, date palm jaggery
- Milk – 500 ml
- Nolen Gur (Date Palm Jaggery) – 150 gm
- Curd – 200 gm
- Fresh Cream – 100 ml
- Eggs – 2
- Corn Flour – 1 table spoon
- Butter – 2 tea spoons
- Any type of Cracker/Cookies for crust
- Cashews for garnish
- Grind the cookies or crackers that you are using for the crust. And mix it well with melted butter.
- Pour this mixture at the bottom of the baking pan and press it down with a spoon to create a uniform layer. Refrigerate the pan along with the crust while you get busy with the next steps.
- Boil the milk in low flame to reduce it to almost 1/4th in volume. While boiling, stir it well every five minutes or so to mix the cream back into the milk.
- Meanwhile use a cheese cloth or a strainer to drain water from the curd.
- Mix nolen gur (date palm jaggery) with the reduced milk while it is still warm and let it cool.
- After the mixture has cooled down, add the hung curd, cream, and eggs (both whites and yolks) into the mix.
- Blend well till you get a smooth and creamy batter.
- Take a spoon of the batter, mix some corn flour well into it and then put this mixture back to the batter. Mix uniformly.
- Take the baking pan out of the refrigerator and pour the whole batter in it.
- Bake at 160° Celsius for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Let the pan cool down on a wire rack and then refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours for the cheesecake to solidify.
- Carefully take it out of the pan and serve a slice with a spoonful of liquid nolen gur.
I know what you are thinking! How can Nolen Gur (date palm jaggery) and Cheesecake be used in the same sentence, let alone in the same recipe??? Well, you’re not alone, I was in the same boat a few days ago. But then I came across a post in a Facebook food group. And suffice to say that I will be trying out many other deserts with nolen gur as well, not just cheesecake.
Calcutta Foodies Club
If you are fond of Bengali cuisine and read Bengali script, you should definitely check out the Facebook group Calcutta Foodies Club. Not only is it a group where people share recipes with pictures of mouth-watering food, but it’s also a priceless reservoir of wonderful stories around specific food items and the personal as well as collective memories of the group members related to those. And you know the best part? In my experience, it is probably one of the very few groups on Facebook where admins and moderators do not push any personal or political agenda through their own posts or their approval of other posts. Personal attack on culinary choices are immediately removed and religious bigotry in terms of food, heavily discouraged. Isn’t that amazing?
Although, both Sanchari and I have been members of this group for quite a few years, Sanchari is the only one who posts there with photographs and stories of our food experiences. I’m more like a silent lurker, with some occasional likes for those exceptional food photography and brilliant storytelling. Oh yes, I’m picky. Sanchari often complains about me rarely using any reactions other than Like and being so super stingy with comments. But in Calcutta Foodies Club, however, some posts are so interesting and unique, that even a comment miser like me cannot stop myself from commenting. Yeah, it’s that good.
Nolen Gur : Aromas of Winter
Recently I came across one such post on Khejur Gurer Cheesecake (cheese cake made with date palm jaggery) by Lipika Dey. Her posts are often accompanied with a story that’ll definitely hook you up for 5 minutes and make you chuckle from time to time. As soon as I went through the post and the recipe, I knew I had to try this one.
I decided to try the same cheesecake recipe with nolen gur. As every true-blue Bengali already knows, nolen gur is date palm jaggery, which is usually collected on the onset of winter in Bengal. Nolen being the corruption of the Bengali word Notun which means “new”. It has extreme sentimental value for Bengalis as it is used to make pithe and puli (traditional Bengali sweet dumplings) during winter, making it a seasonal delicacy. These days it is often readily available outside of Bengal as well, thanks to immigrant Bengalis all over India, especially here in Bangalore. I recently found out that even our tiny local Bengali sweet shop in Kaggadaspura, keeps it in stock during December-January. It is also available in Amazon, if you want to try it out. I have never needed to buy it from there though, and so cannot vouch for its quality.
Unexpected jugaad time
Anyway, on a Saturday morning, when I started preparing for the cake, I realized we do not have a large enough springform pan. We only have those tiny heart shaped springform pans that can make only one serving (or half a serving if you love cheesecake as much as we do). So, I ended up spending some time to wrap a regular 9-inch baking pan with layers of aluminium foils, so that I can take the cake out of the pan just by lifting up the makeshift layers.
Finally, the cake turned out to be delicious. I, being the nit-picker, was still not entirely happy with the texture as it was not as creamy as I was hoping it would be. But considering the overall taste of the cheesecake along with its typical nolen gur aroma and the fact that I tried making cheesecake for the first time, I’d call it a win. I plan to try it once more with a little bit different ratio of milk, eggs, and curd. “If you think this is good, prepare to be amazed next time!”, I have already told Sanchari in a momentary lapse of cocky optimism. And yes, she has been prodding me for more, ever since.
If you try out this cheesecake recipe or if you know any other recipes using Nolen Gur, please leave a comment. They don’t sell nolen gur in a quantity lesser than 500 gms and so we have plenty of leftover!