Friday, November 23, 2012

Chhanaar Dalna or Paneer – Bengali style

Once again I was compelled to take a long break. During this period mum’s anniversary went by and so did my blog’s second anniversary.
I also had some interesting foodie experience that I would like to share with you, however if you are not interested in reading about it, you may skip the following and scroll down to the recipe of Chhanaar Dalna  or Paneer – Bengali style.
It so happened, personal work took my brother and me to Pune. Whenever we visit Pune we stay at Hotel Shree Pancharatna, located close to the railway station this hotel is squeaky clean, comfortable and perfect in every way. There is one problem though they have a limited menu; we often rack our brains trying to select
something to eat. Now this is a problem which we face, probably others do not have such problems for I have noticed their restaurant Panchavati attracts quite a crowd, Puneites obviously love it and their Italian menu appears to be quite popular. I also have another problem, chillies are complete ‘no, no’ for me. However, way back in 1996 this very hotel had a beautiful garden restaurant and food that was out of this world, I remember enjoying the food so much that I had indulged in a bit of overeating.
Some days back my brother had posted a review on Trip Advisor and was pleasantly surprised to find the hotel’s General Manager, Mervin Aston post a reply. Mr. Aston invited him to sample the dishes on their new menu (which they are planning to launch shortly) on his next visit. Sure enough on this visit not only did Mr. Aston   show us the new menu which he was planning to launch in December he surprised us by sending us a sample of Chicken Teriyaki which is one of the dishes from the new menu. Now the word ‘sample’ is definitely an understatement for this was a large portion. I wish we had photographed the dish; it was so beautifully laid out. It did not just look nice, it tasted heavenly, it was just yum.
Now for today’s recipe, Chhanaar Dalna/ Cottage Cheese – Bengali Style.
 Chhanaa is the Bengali word for paneer or cottage cheese and Dalna is the name of the preparation.The syllable chha is pronounced the way you would pronounce  chha in the Hindi word chhaaya, actually on second thoughts I should have spelt it  with a double 'a' that is chhaanaa and not chhanaa.

Mum as I have said time and again was a fantastic cook and cooked a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes and this particular vegetarian dish was one of her most popular dishes. Almost everybody said, “Nobody can make it like you do”. Well two things set mum’s chhanaar dalna apart, one is the home made cottage cheese and the other is the whey. Watch the video below and you may also take a look at the recipe given below:

Measurements are all approximate; I very rarely measure the ingredients, for me it is all about using my judgement.
  • 250 grams Paneer
  • 3 Potatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One green cardamom
  • 3 cloves
  • A small stick of cinnamon
  • One fresh bay leaf
  • ¼  teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Red chilli powder to taste. I always use Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons of coriander and cumin mix powder
  • About ½ a teaspoon ginger paste
  • Salt to taste
  • Required quantity of oil
If you make the paneer or cottage cheese at home you can use the whey. Whey is actually a sort of by-product; it is the liquid which remains after the milk has been curdled and strained. This whey is very nutritious and lends a wonderful flavour to a dish. It was this whey which set apart my mum’s chhanaar dalna.
  • Chop the paneer into cubes
  • Chop potatoes into cubes
  • Heat enough oil to deep fry the pieces of paneer till they are golden brown. If you are health conscious you may just lightly stir fry them, I do that quite often.
  • Drop the fried pieces of paneer in the whey; this helps the paneer to swell up. If you are using ready-made paneer then you may use water instead of whey.
  • While the paneer pieces are soaking in the whey or the water, add the cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf to the oil. A point to be noted here is you may use the same oil in which you fried the paneer pieces, however take care to adjust the quantity of oil; you will not need the same quantity of oil so use your judgement.
  • Now add the potatoes and stir fry for a while, that is till the potatoes are partially done.
  • Add the ginger paste, turmeric powder, chilli powder and coriander and cumin mix powder and salt to taste.
  • Stir well till you are sure that the spices are no longer raw and they emit a wonderful aroma.
  • Add the paneer along with the whey.
  • Cover and cook for a while and then add a little bit sugar.
  • Now cover and cook till done. How watery you would like the dish to be of course depends on your personal taste.
Paneer pieces will swell up once they are ready
To see how to make paneer at home watch the video below, you will find mum demonstrating how to make the paneer. 


  1. Good to see you back, Shilpi! Your recipe of chhannar dalna made my mouth water - my sister's cook makes this quite often, but just reading the ingredients you've listed, I can tell this one will be much, much better.

  2. Thanks Madhu, this is one of my favourite vegetarian dishes, after mum left us suddenly I wondered whether I would be able to do justice to it but I managed to come close to the way she made it.

  3. Welcome back Shilpi!
    I also discovered a very easy of making paneer few days back. We get fresh cheese, which we call Topfen here, in Germany it is called Quark. I just pressed it together under a weight and paneer was ready in an hour or so.
    That is why I won't get whey. The recipe sounds yummy and looking forward to cooking it! How many people will it serve?

    1. Oops Harvey you have got me there, I think depending on a person's appetite it could serve three people and maybe even four. You see I do not take exact measurements, you see the weight of the paneer is also something that I have guessed, it is what I got from half a litre of milk. I made small pieces so that I could stretch it for a 2 days.

  4. Two of my favourite ingredients - paneer & good old potatoes! I've never thought of putting them together...and this looks absolutely delicious! That's tomorrow nights dinner sorted for me, then!

    1. Welcome FillumFarer, thanks, hope you like it.

  5. Great post ( and blog), Shilpi. I specially like the silent videos which guide the readers well. Planning to try it out today although with Paneer. Will have to make the Chhaana next time around.