• Curdled milk is called chhana or cottage cheese.
• We add ⅛ tsp or two pinches of salt to the payesh to enhance the sweetness of the milk and sugar to produce a fully realised flavour.
1. Set 1 litre of milk to boil in a saucepan along with split cardamom pods. Reduce the milk to 70% of its original volume on low heat. The easiest way to determine this is by dipping a wooden skewer or dowel in milk and marking the initial level. From there you can either eyeball the 70% mark, or you can use a ruler to measure the exact depth. When the milk has reduced (should take 20–25 minutes after it coming to a boil), turn off the heat.
2. In a second saucepan, heat remaining 1 litre of milk. Just when bubbles start to form on the outer edge, or when the milk temperature reaches between 75°C and 85°C, turn off the heat. Add 4tsp vinegar mixed with 4tsp water.
Don't add the acid (vinegar or lime juice) when the milk is boiling hot. Doing so will make the chhana squeaky and dry, and the milk curds will form large lumps instead of being fine and creamy.
3. Continue stirring until the milk has split completely, that is, the curds and the whey are clearly separated.
As soon as the whey (the clear liquid) and curds (the curdled milk solids) separate, drain the whey.
4. Strain over a mesh strainer lined with a cheesecloth. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and gently press some of the excess water out.
5. Crumble the chhana into the reduced milk in the first saucepan. If you see lumps, you may want to gently whisk them away.
6. Turn the heat back on to the lowest setting, and add the salt and sugar.
Continue reducing and thickening the payesh for 20 minutes, but do this on low heat, never letting the milk boil, so that the chhana doesn’t harden.
This also means that you will not be able to thicken and reduce the milk any further after the chhana is added (since it will never reach a boil). So, thicken the milk as much as you would like to before adding the chhana.
7. Once you are happy with the consistency (do remember that it will thicken further when cooled down), add the pistachios.
8. Turn off the heat, and allow the payesh to cool for about 5 minutes before adding rose water.
9. When it cools down, chill in the fridge before serving.
Tell us about your favourite dishes or recipes at email@example.com