Sita Bhog is my choice for S in the A to Z Bengali Sweets Series. I don’t think I came across any other Bengali Sweet starting with S that prompted me to select. I first read about this in a “Must eat Bengali Sweets” list and very reluctantly chose this, hoping I would get another dish for S. As luck would have it, I couldn’t find anything else with S. So I decided to attempt Sita Bhog and procrastinated till the end as this was the last one in the series to get cooked. The dish really put me off with the seemingly complex steps involved. I was just not able to wrap the recipe around my mind. Maybe it could do with the way the recipe was explained.
However, as it always happens, when I finally got down to crack the recipe, I realized it was quite easy, of course, provided you are only making with 1 cup fresh paneer. I got about 2 servings and it was enough for us. I know you might say why to go to the trouble of making this when you are not going to make more. I would surely recommend you to make the Nikhutis at least, that I made along with this recipe. Those were the softest and yummiest ones I remember making. You could just keep popping in and not realize you completed a bowl!
Coming to the dish, Sita Bhog is said to have originated in the district of Bardhaman and is very popular around that area. There are two components in the Sitabhog sweet. First is the rice like or vermicelli like cheese strings and the second is the mini Gulab Jamuns.
The Rice like Cheese Strings is made from a dough kneaded with fresh chhana and rice flour. It is deep fried and then soaked in a sugar syrup. It is then spread to dry. I adapted mine from here, while there was another source that I came across later that said this is mixed in a ratio of 1:4, chhana and rice flour. I am not sure about how the dough will turn out. With the measurement I made, I was able to get long rice like grains when I rubbed the dough over a grater.
Basically, the dough is rubbed over a “sev mold”, in my case, I used a grater, directly over the hot pan of oil. Ghee is mostly used for deep frying this vermicelli like strings. I made a mix of oil and ghee. Once these strings are deep fried, they are soaked in a sugar syrup until it absorbs the sweetness. Then when serving, mini gulab jamuns called the Nikhutis are added and served. To check if I am able to get the Vermicelli strings, I first experimented over a bowl with different molds and finally settled with this grater.
As with all Paneer Based Bengali Sweets, you need to make fresh soft Paneer/Chhana and then knead it till your heels pain..:)
In this A to Z Bengali Sweets for Protein Rich dishes:
A for Aam Sandesh
B for Bhapa Sandesh
C for Channar Puli
D for Danadar
E for Elixir Sandesh
F for Fruit Sandesh
G for Gajarer Sandesh
H for Hot Chocolate Sandesh Truffle
I for Ice Cream Sandesh
J for Jilapi
K for Khirkadam
L for Lyangcha
M for Malai Sandesh
N for Nikhuti Payesh
O for Orange Sandesh
P for Pantua
Q for Quick Rasmalai
R for Rasgulla
Step By Step Pictures for making soft Chhana for Bengali Sweets
Step by Step Pictures for kneading the chhana to a soft texture.
Step by Step Pictures for making Sita Bhog
Step By Step Pictures for making Sugar Syrup
Deep Frying the Sita Bhog Cheese Strings
Step by Step Pictures for making Nikhuti
Sita Bhog | How to make Sitabhog
For the Sita Bhog
1 cup Paneer / Chhana / Cottage Cheese
2 tsp Rice Powder
1 to 2 tsp Milk as needed in the final stage of kneading
For Sugar Syrup for Sita Bhog
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
A pinch Saffron
For the Nikhuti
1 cup Milk Powder
1/2 cup All Purpose flour / Maida
A Pinch of Baking Soda
1.5 tsp Ghee
2 tbsp Curds / Yogurt
Sugar Syrup for Nikhuti
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
A pinch Saffron
Ghee for deep frying, I made a mix of cooking oil and ghee.
How to make Sita Bhog
Soak 1 cup of Rice in water for a couple of hours. Drain and spread over a kitchen towel and keep under the fan to make it completely dry. Once dry, you can powder it to a fine powder. The rice might still be little damp, which will help in holding the dish shape. Alternatively, you can use store bought Rice flour as well. I used store bought rice flour.
Making Sita Bhog
Make the soft fresh chhana for preparing Bengali Sweets. Take the portion needed to make this sweet.
Knead the chhana for about 10 to 15 mins, till you see the chhana oozing out fat and looks shiny.
Gather the cheese and add the rice flour. Knead again till the rice flour is well incorporated and the cheese holds its shape.
Sprinkle the milk and knead the cheese into a ball again.
Using the grater, first, try out grating through it to check if you are getting fine vermicelli size strings.
Heat the Kadai with oil and ghee mix, when it is hot, simmer and keep the grater directly over it and grate the cheese ball into the oil
You will get fine strings of cheese that will get cooked very quickly. So make sure you keep an eye on that to make sure oil is not very hot.
Drain with a slotted spoon.
Making the Sugar Syrup
Melt the sugar in water and remove impurities if any, add cardamom and saffron and bring to a boil.
Once the water starts rolling boil, let it get cooked for another 5 to 7 mins. We are not looking for a string consistency. Only for the sita bhog cheese strings to soak the sweet.
Gently drop the cooked cheese strings into the sugar syrup, close with a lid and let it dunk all the sweetness. This could take about an hour depending on the texture. Drain the strings and spread on a plate to dry out.
In another bowl, add Milk powder, Maida, Soda, Ghee, and curd. Mix well and knead it for some 10 to 15 mins. Ensure the dough is soft and does not crack.
Pinch out tiny balls and shape as puli or oval shape.
Heat oil and ghee mix in a Kadai. When the oil is hot, simmer to low flame, drop in the Nikhuti in batches and deep fry till they turn golden brown colour.
Drain using a slotted spoon and keep it aside.
Making the Sugar Syrup
Since I had the sugar syrup excess from the previous batch of sita bhog, I simply added extra sugar and made the syrup in the same pan.
When the syrup is done, drop the Nikhutis into it and let it soak in sugar syrup for an hour or so.
I made more Nikhutis and served as such. These made the perfect mini gulab jamuns.
Assembling the Sita Bhog.
Drain the Nikhutis from the syrup and mix to the sita bhog and toss it to get mixed well.
Serve it as chilled or at room temperature as a dessert.
This is normally done with Govind Bhog rice of Bengali, it is supposed to be fragrant and aromatic. If you are not able to access it, you could use Basmati Rice instead.
Making with just 1 cup paneer is pretty simple and easy to attempt.