Chhanar Dalna with a Twist (Bengali Paneer Curry, with coconut stuffing)

Trisha Rudra
Trisha Rudra|
Last updated on Jan 11th
Chhana/Chenna is the Bengali name of homemade paneer. This dish is a popular Bengali curry, specially made for auspicious occasions, as it's pure veg. This dish is a twist on the simple Bengali-style paneer kofta curry, where the koftas have been stuffed with grated coconut and raisins, and a tomato-coconut based gravy.
  • Prep Time30Minutes
  • Cooking Time20Minutes
  • Serves3people

Recipe Ingredients

  • For the Chhana:
  • Full-fat milk – 1/2 ltr or 500 ml
  • Lemon juice/Vinegar – a tbsp approx
  • For the Koftas:
  • Chhana/Paneer – 100 gms
  • Coconut – 100 gms (shredded/grated)
  • Maida – 2 tbsp
  • Raisins – 1 for each kofta
  • Salt – to taste
  • For the gravy:
  • Potatoes – 1 large or 2 small, cubed
  • Tomatoes – 2 medium
  • Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
  • Green chilies – 2
  • Coconut – 1 tbsp, grated
  • Bay leaves – 2
  • Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Sugar – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1 tsp
  • Cumin Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder – 1 tsp
  • Mustard oil – for cooking
  • Ghee – 1 tsp

Recipe Preparation

  1. Make a paste of the chopped tomatoes, green chilies and ginger. Keep aside.
  2. Heat the milk in a deep-bottomed vessel, and let it come to a rolling boil.
  3. Once you see bubbles on the surface, add the lemon juice/vinegar, and let the milk curdle without reducing the flame. This might take 4 to 7 mins.
  4. Once the milk curdles and the cheese curds separate from the whey, turn off heat and strain it through a thin strainer.
  5. Let most of the whey drain out, and then, transfer into a cheese cloth and secure the ends well.
  6. Place a heavy object on top of the tied-up chhana, and keep aside for an hour or 30 mins.
  7. After a bit, untie the chhana from the cheese cloth and transfer on to a plate.
  8. Knead the chhana well, until smooth. To this, add the grated coconut, and maida, and mix well.
  9. Add salt (remember the gravy will have salt) accordingly, and make small round and flat shaped koftas, stuffing a raisin in the middle of each one.
  10. Repeat process and make same-sized koftas with the remaining dough.
  11. Heat a shallow-pan with some ghee/oil, and let it heat up.
  12. Drop the koftas one by one, frying them on low heat, turning over when one side turns golden, until they’re evenly browned, and fried. (These are deep-fried usually, but I prefer shallow-frying).
  13. Now, and add mustard oil in the same pan. When it smokes, add the bay leaves and cumin seeds, letting them crackle.
  14. Now, add the potatoes, and turmeric. Fry potatoes until they’re well-browned.
  15. To this, add the tomato, chili and ginger paste. Add the dry masalas, and saute well on a medium-high heat until the masala changes colour and begins to coat the potatoes.
  16. Add the grated coconut, mix well, and add the sugar. Cover the pan for 4 to 6 mins, until potatoes have softened.
  17. Now, add the koftas and once again, mix well. Pour in a cup full of water, and cover pan, letting the koftas simmer in the gravy and soak up the masalas.
  18. After 5 mins or so, uncover pan, check seasonings, and gravy consistency. Gravy should be slightly thin, as the koftas will soak up some gravy.
  19. Turn off heat, garnish with ghee, and serve hot with rice, or rotis.
My Tip: We usually make our own Chhana at home by curdling milk; a liter of full-fat milk (Amul Gold) yields about 400 gm of chhana here, but you would probably get different results with different milk brands/quality.