Sweet shops all over Puri, but especially around the Jagganath temple, display a bronze thali with a leafy covering. Under the fresh green leaf lies the soft, spongy, juicy milk-based cheesecake with a caramel topping. Called “chhena poda”, this is known to be Jaggannathji’s favourite indulgence.
5 katoris (cups) “chhena” (soft panner/cottage cheese)
300 gm sugar/”mishri”
2-3 tbsp “sooji” (semolina)
3-4 small cardamoms, crushed
6-7 cashwenuts, lightly fried in ghee and broken into bits
1 tbsp sugar/”mishri” to sprinkle over the top
Drain the chhena well.
Mix in the soji and beat well till light and fluffy.
Mix in all the other ingredients reserving 2 tbsps of sugar/”mishri” and pour into a greased dish.
Sprinkle the remaining sugar/“mishri” over the top.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 40 minutes at 200 degrees F.
The top should be golden brown and the center soft and wobbly.
Cover and cool before cutting and serving.
(Excerpted with permission from the book Temple Foods—Bhog, by Arun Budhiraja, which includes recipes culled from temple kitchens.)