mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

Cheesecake in Delhi!

In Desserts on January 9, 2009 at 10:59 pm


A very Happy New Year to all of you.  (No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth.)  May you have all you need.  Yes – need, not want.  And may you never want.  And what you cannot have may you be able to cook it up.

Do you crave things from long ago, from once-upon-a-time-when-I-lived-in-Cherapunji?  One of the things I have craved ever since I left the shores of America, besides New York style bagels, is a slice of cheesecake.  I have tried my luck with many restaurants here in Delhi. Other than The All American Diner at the IHC none have served anything worth a second fork-full, most being a jello+whipped-cream-on-a-crumb-base thing.

The discussion on labneh did confirm that my hung-curd-chukka was as good as any Philly. The main ingredient was taken care of then. Yet, despite the craving, I was nowhere nearer baking one. The truth is it intimidated me. Ingredients I had never used together – chukka with eggs? A cake that needed no baking powder? It was never going to turn out well. And all that effort…

Then along came my neighbour and (first!) tenant T. We got to talking about cheesecakes one day. And carelessly, I said – cream-cheese, I know how to make that! And that cracker base – why Britannia Digestive Biscuits were just made for it! She offered to hang the curds… One weekend, with fair warning, she did.

mixingSunday afternoon, after lunch and after snacking on the delicious Bohri mince samosas T’s mom had made, I emptied my oven – that is where all the bake-ware is stored – and took out the mixing bowls. I was deciding between the wire whisks when I decided to put the food processor and the paddle attachment to good use. The rest was quick since homemade cream cheese is super soft to begin with.

cheesecakeI reduced the recipe (which is based on this and additional reading) to fit my 6″ tin but I had much more filling. Two ramekins and two heart shaped tart-dishes were pressed into service which made great individual servings – perfect when that craving hits!

I put the tin in the oven and watched dumbfounded as the cheesecake rose and rose way above the edges! Thankfully it didn’t pour over! Next day I was checking with the web Gods about my possessed cheesecake. Phew. Yes, cheesecakes rise! So please use a deep pan that will allow it to do its thing.


The cheesecake fell as it cooled in the oven, the edges slightly higher than the center, but not a crack on that surface! Looked perfect but we had to wait till the following day to get a taste; it needed to chill overnight.

Next evening – being my first cheesecake and all – the first slice was scrambled sacrificed, so others may live.  I don’t have a spring-form pan.  I should probably get one.  But do I really need one or do I merely want? 😉

This recipe makes a dense rich cheesecake very much like what I remembered from one Thanksgiving, a long time ago, in Kansas.

 Heart of a cheesecake

New York Cheesecake
Serves 12

For the Crust
2 T melted butter
100gm Britannia’s digestive biscuits, crushed into fine crumbs
1 T fine granular sugar

For the filling
yoghurt made from 3l of 3% or full fat milk, hung overnight; resulting  cream cheese (about 600gms) at room temperature
200gms powdered sugar
2 T plain flour
pinch of salt
1 t vanilla essence
zest of 1 lime
2 t lime juice
2 eggs
150 ml soured cream (add a teaspoon of yoghurt to cream and leave to set for a few hours)

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4.  Line a deep 6″ pan with butter paper.  Put the biscuits in a zip-lock bag and crush with a rolling pin.  Combine melted butter, sugar, and crushed biscuits.  Press into the prepared pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool while you prepare the filling.

Increase oven temperature to 240C/ gas mark 9.

Place the cream cheese in the jar of your food processor.  Beat the cheese at low speed till creamy, about one minute.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, flour, and a pinch of salt, as the blade whirs.  Scrape down the paddle and the sides of the jar a couple of times to ensure the batter is lump-free and the ingredients are well blended.  Remove the contents of the jar into a mixing bowl.  I do not have a fancy mixer with a whisk attachment.  Whisk in the vanilla, lime juice, and zest.  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.  Scrape the whisk and bowl.  Add sour cream and beat until smooth.  Do not use an electric beater for this.  Regular beaters may incorporate more air and lead to cracks later.

Brush the sides of the cake tin with melted butter or oil.  You may use additional crumb mixture to line the sides if you wish (I didn’t).  Pour the filling in and set the pan on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 110C/ gas mark 2.  Bake another 25 minutes.  It might be a bit wobbly in the center but will set as it cools.  Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside to cool for 2 hours.  Spread the prepared topping. Who needs more cream – I skipped.  Chill for a few hours, preferably overnight.

Run a knife around the sides of the tin to loosen the cooled cake.  Divide into 8 or 12 slices, depending on your want.  Scoop out the first slice and eat.  This one doesn’t count.  I do not possess a spring form tin.  And I didn’t mean to ask for one. I don’t need one.

Serve and indulge.  Want some?

It is possible to make great cheesecake in this country of no Philly! There are other substitutes you can try. Some recipes use Ricotta, which is very similar to our chena (paneer)! Make sure to combine chena and eggs thoroughly before adding any liquids; lumps are hard to remove! If you don’t have digestive biscuits handy, don’t let that be an excuse – use whatever kind you have, even wafer biscuits! Stick to the recommended oven temperatures and cool the cheesecake in the oven with the door ajar to prevent cracks from extremes of temperature. If you still get some cracks, cover with topping or fruit. Happy cheesecake baking!

  1. I have seen them, heard too much about them since the time I set foot here in London but havent been able to actually taste one till now! Maybe the name CHEESEcake itself puts me off 🙂 But a cheesecake using chukka? This I have to try…

    Think cream cheese-shrikhand…and then you will rush to the nearest cheesecake place!

  2. You deserve a bow Anita. That is a picture perfect cheesecake slice. I am sure it tastes delicious.

    Your Whole Wheat Bread recipe came in mighty handy when I set out to make my second loaf of bread. It tasted great and the smell (aroma sounds like a better word) that filled the house, I was proud of myself. Thank you.

    🙂 Thanks Indo.
    That potato bread is really amazing! Looking at the crumb you will never thing it had 50% atta!

  3. So glad you finally caught on to the difference between need and want. Hallelujah.

    Philadelphia cream cheese is overrated according to me. There used to be a time when I usually had a small tub in my refrigerator. No more. Hung yogurt is much better.

    Good for you! And now that you have a GF who cooks with you, may we please have the recipe for those Bohri samosas? And after that, the classic Bohri biryani? I can’t find the recipe our Bohri friends in Kenya had given my Mom so many decades ago.

    Knowing the difference does not stop the wanting…
    I have forwarded the request and it should happen one day. Maybe when her mum visits again! I got to taste the biryani too!

  4. oh Anita BRAVO! This looks great! YOu make me crave cheesecake now. And I am with Manisha – when you mentioned those samosas I waned the recipe too. As your GF to share the recipe!

    🙂 My turn!

  5. Wowee! No one guessed it correctly. It is such a beautiful looking cheesecake and must have tasted divine. But Anita, what can I use instead of eggs? Right now me and my friends buy cheesecake from Spencer’s and a 2X3 sized piece costs 80Rs. It’s a caving into the indulgence ;).

    Believe it or not, Bhavana got it right!
    Don’t know about the egg-substitute. The one at Spencer’s has no eggs?

  6. Ah, them cravings 🙂 .

    Looks luscious! Pardon my ignorance, but what are these digestive biscuits (never saw them in the canteen 5 years ago), something new by Britannia? Or a fiber rich version of the good old glucose biscuits? You can tell that my knowledge is clearly dated 😀 .

    See, you need to hang around the market more when you visit instead of running off to the pind! It is a fibre rich biscuit but not at like Marie!

  7. What a story and quest for cheesecake! Looks like it turned out delicious!

    It did!

  8. craving can lead to anythin,.cheese cake looks yum,..nd perfect,..

    A good thing when it leads to the kitchen!

  9. I tried ‘hung curd’ only late in 2008 and it was a revelation. Maybe cheesecake will be my next try – I have to learn how to work the convection mode in my MW.

    I’ve always been uncomfortably aware of the difference between need and want but does that check the wanting …? I’m off to buy some terra cotta cookware tomorrow, and my 2-month-old stone pot has just been sent off to the storeroom after being part seasoned. Needless to say, it’s not been used yet. Sigh!

    Do it!
    And now you make me want both those things! But I would use them…but of course.

  10. I absolutely adore that little heart-shaped one- you must really love cheesecake! But I am envious: a non-virtual cooking friend?… I almost had one once. [sigh]

    Now, I’ll NEED to make a cheesecake to cheer myself up!! 😀

    They hit that spot!
    It really is nice to share with her and to get to taste her cuisine too which is completely new for me.

  11. Chakka for creamcheese. That sounds perfect. Your cheesecake photographed scrumtiously.

    A shmear of Philly creamcheese is for bagels and lox on a sunday morning only.

    Somhow opening two packages to make cheesecake always seemed like an indulgence and unhealthy. Or maybe I am just plain ol lazy and clutching at straws.

    Chakka makes it all sound so much healthier.

    I shall have to get out the muslin hanging bag and make my chakka this weekend. Shrikhand and Cheesecake shall be on the dessert menu this week!

    Oh and Bohri samosa recipe please.

    I love Philly on a bagel! Oooh…don’t remind me! I crave one right now. And now will have to make them bagels!
    And there is so much more you can do with that chakka. enjoy your shrikhand. (why do I want some?)

  12. Best of the new year to you, dear Anita!
    Snowy and I were just talking this morning how cheesecake is the ultimate dessert for us…except, of course, for me, I’d have to say the truly ultimate would be a plain, New York-style cream cheesecake topped with gulab jamun instead of the cherries or strawberries that are common toppings.
    I’m blushing as I type!

    HNY to you too, Neroli.
    🙂 That would be a new combo. We do customarily eat hot gulab jamuns with cold ice cream though – what a pair!

  13. your pictures made my mouth water 🙂

    I haven’t forgotten the tag – just been a bit busy. Will get around to doing it soon.

    I wasn’t that quick myself!

  14. Hey I finally did the riddle me this post – I hope I didn’t put something too easy – check it out 🙂

    Easy enough for me! But glad Kiran got there first!

  15. Wow! Have never eaten cheescake and would love to try this wonderful recipe. But do not have a company to te(a)st(e) them at home 😦

    Make it just for yourself then! You know you’re worth it!

  16. this looks delish… happy new year.

    Philadelphia cream cheese is available in GK, INA and even at Needs in Gurgaon. SHall I bring you some when I come visiting? then you can make me some more cheesecake?

    Of course INA has everything!
    Sure you can bring some…when should I be expecting you?

  17. My mother used to make cheesecake when we lived in Delhi and milk was “plenty” as compared to Bombay where it was rationed in the early 80s. She made the crust from scratch – flour butter sugar – blind baked! She made the cream cheese the same way you do from hung yogurt. That memory is the reason why I have never made cheese cake even though I live in the land of ready-made crusts and cream cheese in tubs. To me the cream cheese has to home-made and as well as the crust for it to qualify as “real”. All those that I tasted here also failed to measure up.

    With this recipe someday soon…

    PS: I am making rajma from your recipe as I write this. My last 3 attempts with California rajma were hard and awful. Today’s has been made with rajma from Guler sent by a brother-in-law in the army! It is creamy and divine – thanks again


    So there was a time in Bombay too when milk was rationed. I remember in the early 80s when milk products were banned in the summer months sothat plain milk would be available. Then came ‘operation flood’ and all that became history!

    This was good so i can vouch for the goodness of homemade creamcheese! Try it when you feel inclined.
    After reading you cooking rajma, I had to cook some! Perfect for a winter’s day!

  18. bravo!!!! try putting a parchment round at the bottom of the pan. this looks much more delectable (and i’m betting it was more flavourful) than the crap at cheesecake factory. i ate a cloyingly sweet, textureless piece from there recently and almost threw up.

  19. oops. i meant putting a ‘ring’ of parchment on the sides. but i wonder if it will inhibit the rising.

  20. While Bee is trying to keep her geometry straight, 😉 I thought I’d mention that I think I could have scraped that mixing bowl cleaner; tsk tsk- so wasteful you are! 😀 Just saying… (Ooops! That was someone else’s famous line…) 🙂

  21. Hai this is my first time at ur blog.Im in India.I always wanted to try Cheesecake but i dont know where to find Cream cheese.Thanks for the recipe.Your cake is making me to drool 🙂

  22. wow, amazing to use chakka in place of philly! gotta try this! love your blog. I remember coming here sometime back while I was looking for the recipe of kahwa. Do visit me sometime!

  23. Thanks to you, I went and bought a cheesecake and ate it now. Inspite of my diet. THat bad was my craving. *hmph* 😀

  24. I do get Philly here in Mumbai but hung curd sounds better (and cheaper than the exorbitant “imported food” rates!)

    Cheesecake is lovely and so, so tempting.

    And yes, I do miss INA – I have my malls and supermarkets here but nothing to beat my weekly INA trips.

  25. happy new year to u and ur family!!
    I always long for things from long ago so i can understand ur craving.. have u tried the no bake version of cheesecake?

  26. This sounds like fun and yes, easy too. Have always wondered about the baking part. I used to make one the shot gun way.. 250 gms paneer and 1 packet jelly(dissolved in half the recommended water), blend together and set on a biscuit base, serve with fruit. Its easily scalable.. 🙂 Will try this one too. Thanks again.

  27. First time to your blog.As soon as i scrolled down my reaction was – Wow.Its lovely:-)
    I love cheesecakes,they are so soft and yummy.Great pictures too.

  28. A very Happy New Year to you and your family.

  29. Interesting note on kashmiri desserts! The Pic of Ver almost looks like a rounded cutlet…tempting! Enjoyed reading the post.

  30. Bravo, my dear!
    You brought back a long forgotten memory for me. I was in high school when I attempted to make home-made cheesecake. I had a cooking companion as well- my mum! 🙂

  31. I did try this out and it is really yummy, Anita. Only change I did was I didn’t have cream so added a mix of fresh yogurt and milk but still the texture and taste was very good.

  32. Ohhhh I did the riddle me thing on my blog, so folks come and take a guess!

  33. Sounds absolutely delicious! Thanks for the very simple recipe and demystifying cheesecake!

  34. You are allowed cracks actually – it proves the cheesecake is genuinely made by hand not in a factory! Also, philly is just an american shortcut. The original ingedient was full fat cheese, exactly like yours! An alternative base is using ground nuts – hazlenut are good, but almonds would do, I think, if you ground your own – roast them dry in a small pan, cool, then grind as finely as you prefer- more low carb that way as well..

  35. Hi Anita,
    This is the first time I’m commenting on your blog. But I am a frequent visitor. I tried this recipe today and it was a huge success. But I did use a short-cut :). I had forgotten to hang the curds yesterday and hence I didn’t have any hung curd. But I was dying to try out this recipe. Moreover, I had visitors today and I wanted to make a dessert that was simple and fruity. So I substitued the hung curd and sugar in your recipe with Amul Shrikhand (Mango flavour). For everything else, I followed your recipe exactly. I ended up with a wonderful mango cheese cake. And the tartness of the lime juice and lime zest merged beautifully with the mango flavour. It was a really nice ending to our meal.

  36. Hi,
    Good try!I have racked my brains many a time thinking of what I will do for cream cheese in India. Thanx for this cool idea.
    I’m new to blogging and would like your permission to add you blog on my page under the ” blogs I follow” list

  37. Nice recipe…. the cheese-cake look really tempting…

  38. Anita,

    Wonderful! I made this cheesecake a couple of times (though I refrigerated and didn’t bake), and I needed validation from another Indian about the fact that this works. Yay!


    It works, it works just swell!

  39. Hi Anita!
    I have just discovered your blog n i love it! Im an avid home-baker n iv been dying to try making a cheesecake..I have recipes..but no cream cheese 😦 I’m so glad i read this post. Although i do wanna know if this hung curd can be used as a substitute for cream cheese in any recipe. I actually wanna make a chocolate cheesecake this weekend..I’m goin to try it with the hung curd!

    Hi Disha! This is no substitute – it is creamcheese! if you want it creamier and not low fat, just add fresh cream to the milk before setting it! Happy cheese-making!

    • Hi Anita! Thanks so much for replying! Will let you know how my chocolate cheesecake turns out!

      • Hey! I made a chocolate cheesecake this weekend using ‘hung curd’…My oven went off on its own at some point n i noticed only later…so it dint rise and it tasted a little off.. 😦

        Anita: 😦

  40. Yummmm…this looks so yummmm..m drolling 😛

  41. nigella has a similar recipe
    but yours seems so( much) less intimidating and possible..however i have forgotten to grease my baking bowl 😦
    shucks …i feel like a cheesecake assasin now !
    so eggjited abt hung curd instead of philly !

  42. I just stumbled upon your blog and it’s fabulous! I must say, I face the same problem of all ingredients being expensive and using mascarpone and cream cheese from shops seems to be such an indulgence and hence I have never baked a cheesecake or a tiramisu. But after reading your recipe I will definitely try it out!

  43. Hi, first of all, let me tell you that your recipe is great… And the way to make creme-cheese at home was the best solution EVER!

    I made the cheesecake yesterday just with the difference that instead of the eggs I added 1/4 tin of milkmaid and instead of baking it, I put it in the refrigerator overnight 🙂

    It surely was the best cheesecake I have had in a while after I moved to India. In fact my husband never ate the ones available in the market here, but he finished the whole thing I had made.

    Thank you for sharing!

  44. hie.. i loved ur recipe 4 cheese cake ! bt can u plz tell me wt does “T” stands 4 ?? please

    The one shortened word I use, you didn’t understand! 🙂

  45. […] I am going to start the Divali weekend by making a wholesome breakfast of multigrain waffles.  You know what happens when come Christmas all the American food blogs explode with pictures of gorgeous-looking waffles.  That friend of mine did the same a few years ago and didn’t hear the end of my lament.  Of course, I could find waffles in Delhi if I tried hard enough but my theory is that unless you know better, the fancy eateries here try to fob off one thing in the name of something else altogether.  Why else do you think I would make my own bagels or bake my own cheesecake? […]

  46. Hello! I have had this recipe marked for so long.
    I tried it out yesterday and it turned out very well. I didnt have sour cream and didnt have the time to make any so I just used regular Amul cream. I think it impacted baking time (took me 20 mins or so) but the end result was great. Also I beat all ingredients with a whisk, not a hand beater.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    So happy that the recipe worked out for you, Mandira!

  47. Oh, also mine didnt sink as much as your’s (as seen in the picture) and my crumb was slightly moist. That could be because I needed to drain my curd for longer.

    Sinking is normal for cheesecake, much to my relief! Substitutions mean we may need to adjust other steps and practice makes perfect!

  48. […] zeroed in on Anita’s recipe and tried it out after work yesterday. It was simple with ingredients within my reach and didnt […]

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