CHANNA or CHHANA
Channa or chhana is a product obtained by acid coagulation of milk near its boiling point followed by removal of whey. As per PFA rules, channa may be defined as a product obtained from cow or buffalo milk or a combination thereof by precipitating with sour milk, lactic acid or citric acid. It should not contain more than 70 per cent moisture and milk fat should not be less than 50 per cent of the dry matter.
Like Khoa, Channa is another base for preparing various milk sweets such as paneer, sandesh, rasagolla etc. The recipe for preparing these milk products are given in the respective links.
Method of manufacture of channa
In this method, milk is brought to boiling by heating in a karahi over an open non-smoky fire while stirring it with a stirrer. Then the milk is transferred to coagulation vessels in small batches to which the required quantity of coagulant is added. Usually citric acid is used for coagulation.
It is added at the rate of 2 g dissolved in 200 ml of potable warm water per litre of milk. When completely coagulated, the milk is transferred to another vessel through a strainer cloth stretched over the surface of it. The process is repeated until all the milk is utilized. The cloth containing the coagulated solids is removed, tied and hung up to drain out the whey completely.
In this method, milk is continuously heated in a heat exchanger and coagulated in another chamber in a continuous manner followed by mechanical expulsion of whey.
Quality of channa
It is affected by the type, fat percentage and acidity of milk, coagulation temperature, pH, type of coagulant used and its strength. To prepare high quality channa, fresh cow milk containing more than 4 per cent is preferred since it gives the desired soft body and also meets the legal requirements. The temperature of coagulation of milk should be around 85°C and its pH should be approximately 5.5.
A pinch of calcium chloride is usually added to the coagulating solution before its addition in to the boiling milk since it compensates the calcium in milk lost during boiling and helps in bringing about perfect coagulation. Lactic or citric acid is commonly used as coagulating agents. Traders however use the previous days sour whey, which brings about considerable saving in the coagulation process. Of late, some research suggests the use of calcium lactate as coagulating agent.
The required quantum of milk is taken in a stainless steel jacketed kettle or iron karahi and the milk is heated.
- Coagulating solution is prepared by dissolving 2 g of citric acid in 200 ml of potable hot water for one litre of milk. A pinch of calcium chloride may be added to the hot coagulating solution to aid in the coagulation process.
- The milk is brought to boiling point while stirring it continuously with a stirrer.
- As soon as the milk boils, the heating is stopped.
- The coagulating solution is added in thin streams to the hot milk with continuous gentle agitation.
- As clear whey separates, addition of coagulating solution is stopped.
- It is better to wait for a few minutes for the completion of the coagulation process. Then the coagulated milk is poured over another vessel through muslin cloth.
- The cloth containing the coagulated mass is tied and hung on a hook for the complete removal of whey from channa.
- After draining the whey out, the channa is wrapped in vegetable parchment paper and stored for further use.
Follow the recipe scrupulously to produce channa and try to prepare different dishes from channa (chhana).