Let me introduce a very delicate and extremely elevating dessert that’s unique to Odisha and West Bengal. Agreed, this is not a Thandai infused holi dessert, but it’s also a festive dessert, which is made during festivals. This consists of balls of rice four dough soaked in reduced cardamom flavorded milk. The rice flour is cooked with water and then kneaded to form a dough, moulded into balls, and dropped into simmering milk cream. Something like Ras Malai but instead of Chhena or Paneer balls, riceflour balls are being used in this case.
I was talking to my mom over the phone last week and as always, she was scolding me about how little I eat and how thin I’m becoming day by day (sure, ma!). And yes, like every other kid, I was pretending to listen to her but I was not really. Then she said something about how she used to make special stuff for me when I was a kid because I used to be a really fussy eater. That I was. So I remember, she used to make this delicious melt-in-your-mouth dessert for me, which were not overtly sweet and a very delicate dessert. Don’t ask me the name because I’m sure even in Odisha itself they call it differently in different parts (I know, right!!). But what my ma calls it is – Khira Gaintha. Khira as in Milk and Gaintha as in small balls. So in other words, these are Milky Balls.
There is something fascinating about food and culture. Every country, every region has its own specific cultural flavor. There is novelty and differences for sure, yet, if you dig a little more, you will find striking similarities too. When I was researching more about this dish, I realized that its very similar in taste and preparation to Modak https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modak(Maharashtra), Momos https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momo_(dumpling)from northeast, kozhakataihttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kozhukkatta from South. The ingredients and the preparation of these dishes are very similar. The only thing that separates them is what they are known as and yes, they could be sweet or savory.
So here is my mom’s recipe that I grew up on.
- Rice Flour 2 cups
- Water 4 Cups
- Sugar ¾ cup
- Evaporated Milk 1 cup
- Salt ¼ tsp
- Cardamom powder 1 Tbs
- Shredded Coconut 1/2 cup
- Milk 6 Cups
- Crushed Cashew and Almonds – ¼ cup
- If you don’t have Rice Flour handy, soak the rice in water for about 5 to 6 hours. Then wash and drain the water from rice and keep it aside. Grind the rice to a fine mixture
- Boil water in a deep pan. Add a tsp of oil and a tsp of salt to this. Now gradually and continuously add the rice flour to the water and keep stirring. Make sure there aren’t any lumps. Lower the flame, cover the pan with a lid and cook it for five minutes.
- Take this mixture and turn it on to a wide plate. Let it cool.
- Once it has cooled just enough knead it with your fingers so that it forms a ball.
Make small balls and steam them
- In another deep pan boil the milk and evaporated milk. Simmer in low flame until milk thickens. Add the rest of the sugar, Cardamom powder and heat the milk some more.
- Now one by one drop the rice balls into the boiling milk and continue stirring.
- You can make a paste with 1 tbs of rice powder and add it to the milk to thicken it.
- Add the coconut in the end along with slivered cashew and almonds.
- Serve it cool.
If you like heirloom dishes, try my other traditional recipes: