CHHENA PODA/ BAKED COTTAGE CHEESE CAKE – If cheesecakes were the domain of the western world ,Well, let me introduce to you the quintessential Odia dessert called CHHENA PODA – the only well known Indian dessert which derives its flavor primarily from caramelized sugar.
CHHENA PODA is made of a few basic ingredients but yields a smoky, nutty flavored sublime dessert that is infinitely rich and intense. I particularly love it’s texture, it certainly looks like a cake but tastes like a slightly grainy pudding. How much I try to put my feelings in words, I don’t think I can truly describe in words what a wonderful dessert I am talking about. The proof of this dessert is totally in it’s eating. and considering how easy it is to make, you might start to making it now.
CHHENA PODA or baked cottage cheese is a sweet dish from the state of Odisha, India. The literal meaning of Chhena poda is burnt cottage cheese; Chhena is cottage cheese and Poda means burnt. The procedure is simple, home-made cottage cheese is well-kneaded along with dry fruits and sugar, then it is slowly baked till the caramelized brown color appears. What makes this sweet dish different from other Indian desserts is the flavor of caramelized sugar. Chhena poda is usually made at home during traditional festivals and as offerings to the God. It is said that Chhena Poda is Lord Jagganath’s favourite dessert.
It is said that CHHENA PODA had originated in Nayagarh, a small town in Odisha in the first half of the twentieth Century by Bidyadhar Sahoo , the owner of the confectionery, who one day decided to add sugar and certain seasoning to the leftover cottage cheese and leave it in the oven which was warm from earlier use. The next day he was surprised to find out a dessert which in the coming years would become so popular throughout Odisha.
Traditional method of baking
Once the baking tray is ready with the mixture, cover it with 4/5 layers of plantain leaf or an aluminium foil.Put burning charcoal over that. Else, you can put a lid on the tray and then put burning charcoal.
Put the tray on earthen oven with low intensity flame. Let it be there for 1½ – 2 hours. You can check the status of baking by piercing a small knife or a clean toothpick. If it is done, the toothpick/knife would come out clean.
Modern method of baking
Once the baking tray is ready with the mixture, put it in the microwave oven. Set the cooking time to 30-45 minutes.After the baking time is over, open the over door. Leave the tray in the oven to cool down.