Several years ago I was in the college town of Ithaca, New York with some friends and we ate a fantastic dinner at the legendary Moosewood Restaurant. Moosewood was one of the first nationally known vegetarian restaurants and they have chugged along since 1973, churning out many wonderful cookbooks. I have several, but my very favorite is "Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant" (NY: Fireside Books, 1990) which presents diverse ethnic recipes. We are still exploring the cuisines of India, so we tried a dessert recipe on a leisurely cooking Sunday of our own. Dan made "Cheese and Nut Dessert Balls", using a soft Indian cheese he cooked up from milk. It was very good, sort of like an Indian cannoli.
First you make the Chenna:
2 quarts whole milk
3-4 Tbsp. fresh, strained lemon juice
In a large, heavy saucepan, bring the milk to a rolling boil, stirring often to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 Tbsp. lemon juice. Return the pan to low heat and stir gently until white curds separate from the yellowish whey. If this doesn't happen within 15-20 seconds, add an additional tablespoon of lemon juice. (Dan used the microwave for this process, to avoid scorching).
Pour the curds into a strainer or colander lined with a piece of thin, damp cloth or several thicknesses of cheesecloth. Let it drain until cool enough to handle, then gather up the cloth and squeeze out any remaining liquid. Now you have chenna.
Makes 1-1/2 cups.
We saved the leftover whey to use in making rice.
Cheese and Nut Dessert Balls
1-1/2 cups chenna
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp. grated orange rind
1-4 tsp. orange juice
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds or pistachios
Place chenna in a bowl and add remaining ingredients, except the nuts. Mash until smooth with a spoon or your fingers. Form the mixture into a dozen or so walnut-sized balls and roll each ball in the chopped nuts to coat. Chill until ready to serve.
If you've used freshly made chenna, these dessert balls will keep for 3 or 4 days if tightly wrapped and refrigerated.
Makes 12 dessert balls.
We found these dessert delights a little big and would make them smaller and more bite-sized next time, as they crumble easily. It would be easier to pop a smaller dainty into one's mouth.