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Coconut Cham Chams

Coconut-Covered Sweet Cheese Logs (Cham Chams)

Raj Chakraberti
Frequently colored in hues of pink and yellow, these oblong treats are covered in coconut powder and often feature creamy ricotta or nut paste fillings. Note that if coconut powder is unavailable, coconut flakes can be ground in a grinder. Cham chams are best served chilled.


  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater optional
  • 6 cardamom pods optional
  • Few strands saffron optional
  • Chhana
  • ⅛ teaspoon pink or yellow food coloring optional


  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 ounces coconut powder


  • In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add sugar, and stir to combine. Keep mixture boiling until sugar is completely dissolved. If desired, add rosewater, cardamom, and saffron for extra flavor and aroma. Turn off heat.
  • Remove prepared chhana from cheesecloth, and turn onto a clean surface or cutting board. If desired, add food coloring. With your palm, gently knead together chhana and food coloring until it forms a smooth, slightly moist dough. Add a touch of water if the dough feels dry. Continue kneading for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Break dough into 6 to 10 equal pieces. Keep in mind that the pieces will increase in size when cooked. Form each into ellipses about 2 inches lengthwise and 1 inch in diameter by rolling in your hands. If small cracks appear, use a little water to smooth dough (but don’t worry too much, as coconut will later cover the surface).
  • Bring syrup back to a boil. Add cham chams, and cover. Lower heat so the syrup stays at a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, flip them over, then cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off heat, and remove lid. Let cham chams cool and absorb syrup for 2 hours. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the liquid.

For Cham Chams without filling

  • Roll cooked cham chams in a few ounces of coconut powder until completely coated.

For Cham Chams with filling

  • Combine ricotta, cardamom powder, and sugar in a bowl. Taste, and adjust sweetness using extra sugar as desired. The consistency should be thick enough to spread. Next, cut open a cham cham lengthwise. Apply about a tablespoon of the filling, and top with the other half of the cham cham to create a sandwich. Repeat with the remainder of the cham chams. Roll each in coconut powder until completely coated.
  • Place in refrigerator to chill. Serve cold alongside hot tea on any occasion.

Raj Chakraberti

Raj Chakraberti grew up in the Southern US (Tennessee, Alabama), and is of Indian ancestry. His interest in cooking grew after he moved to New York City in 2002. Being away from his Mom’s Indian homecooking resulted in furiously looking for ways to replicate the foods he grew up with. It was during this time he came to appreciate the books of Madhur Jaffrey and Chitrita Banerji among others. Raj has written for Alimentum Journal, a Literary food journal, Little India Magazine (NYC), Khabar (Atlanta), and India Abroad (NYC).

Photographer Mark Ferri

Mark Ferri is a graduate of Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. He believes in a simple, direct approach that captures the natural beauty and appetite appeal of food. Mark celebrates a life-long passion for food by frequently exploring new restaurants in New York and in Europe, and loves to cook and entertain at his home in the Hudson Valley. Learn more about Mark on his website: http://www.markferriphoto.com/

Stylist Leslie Orlandini

Leslie Orlandini is a chef and an accomplished food stylist in print and television. She has been nominated for both James Beard and Emmy awards and is a veteran of thousands of cooking shows and segments. You can learn more about her through her website: http://leslieorlandini.com/