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Chhena Poda (Spiced Cheesecake)

['Ghee, for the cake pan', '8 ounces paneer, preferably homemade', '¼ cup confectioners’ sugar', '½ teaspoon ground cardamom', '2 tablespoons semolina', '1½ tablespoons ghee, store-bought or homemade', '¼ cup whole milk', '2 tablespoons roasted cashews', '2 tablespoons golden raisins', '3 tablespoons granulated sugar', 'Freshly whipped cream or sliced almonds (optional)', 'for serving']

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch nonstick metal cake pan with some ghee.
In a large bowl, stir together the paneer, confectioners’ sugar, and cardamom until incorporated but still slightly chunky. Add the semolina, ghee, and milk and whisk until smooth. Stir in the cashews and raisins and set aside.
Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Set the pan on the stove over medium heat and once the sugar just begins to bubble and turn pale golden brown (the sugar will continue to caramelize in the oven, so don’t let it get any darker right now), after 8 to 10 minutes, remove the pan from the heat using tongs. (This step is a bit tricky and you might be tempted to move the sugar around with a spoon while it is bubbling, but don’t touch it—just let it caramelize on its own.) You will know it’s ready for the cake batter when it’s bubbling but is still slightly grainy and just turning a pale golden color. Pour the batter into the pan, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl clean. It should settle into an even layer on its own, but if it doesn’t, use the spatula to create a smooth surface.
Wearing oven mitts, carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool in the pan to room temperature. Run a paring knife around the cake’s edges and then place a serving platter larger than the diameter of the cake over the cake and gently flip the cake over—it should slide out, with caramel coming out with it like you would see in a flan (though some caramel will be left in the pan—this is fine).
Slice and serve with freshly whipped cream or sliced almonds, if desired. The cake will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Note: To clean the pan, add some boiling water to the pan and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to loosen up the browned sugar sticking to the surface of the pan before cleaning it.

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