Sweet dumplings made from cottage cheese, soaked in sweetened and thickened milk, delicately flavoured by the Queen of spices-Saffron, chilled and dunked in a serving bowl and topped with fragile pistachio flakes. Ooooh…sounds like a bite of heaven, doesn’t it? When you spoon this creamy dessert and put it in your mouth, the notes it hits are nothing short of nirvana. The creamy texture is worth dying for!
Rasmalai (or Roshmmalai as it is known where it comes from) is one of my favourite Indian desserts (but then, everything is a favourite with me!). All these years, I’d only been good at devouring them. And then one day early last year, I was left with 2 litres of curdled milk. I made the paneer all right, but then I also had two really big chunks of store-bought paneer lying in my refrigerator already. Damnation! What was I to do with so much paneer? And then hurrah! the hubby said we were going to have a guest for lunch the next day, his friend from college he said. And I knew just what to make us with so much Paneer! I love it when someone says they’re coming home. I love to entertain…the joy from when you see your guests devouring the food you made with so much love and care, is simply too difficult to put down in words! I decided to make Shahi Paneer with the store-bought Paneer, and with the home-made paneer, Rasmalai it was going to be! But then, errrrr…I’d never made it on my own before. But then, why worry at all…I had Amma dearest to the rescue! And so, with very many phone calls to Amma at every step and her next-to-perfect instructions on how to go about it, we had a mamma-sized dish full of cheery looking divine Rasmalais! And devour them we did! The guest loved them and what more could I ask for. I made Rasmalais again last week, only 3…and like I said, just because I felt like it. Call me mad, but I call it being gastronomically obsessed! 😛
For the Chenna/Paneer (See How to):
- Milk – 1 litre
- Lime juice / Curd – 1 tbsp (You could even use Citric Acid – 1/4 tsp, dissolved in 1/2 cup water)
- Ice-cubes – 8-10 nos
For the syrup:
- Sugar – 1 cup (use more if your sweet-tooth asks for it, this was perfect for me)
- Water – 4 cups
- Rose Essence – a few drops
For the Ras/Rasa:
- Full Cream Milk/Whole Milk – 1 litre
- Sugar – 1/2 cup
- Saffron – a generous few strands
- Pistachio flakes – 1/4 cup
- Make the chenna/paneer (see how to).
- Once the chenna is ready, place it on a clean, working surface. Add the maida and knead well (about 10-15 minutes) till the chenna has no more lumps and is smooth textured. (You could choose to knead by hand or if you own a food processor, you could get it to knead it for you. I prefer doing it by hand though. Take your pick).
- Divide the chenna into equal-sized portions and roll them into balls about 1″ in diameter (don’t forget that they’ll double in size once they cook in the sugar syrup, so don’t make them too big). Flatten them to make them like patties (Since I decided to make myself just 3 of them, and that happened when they had already cooked in the sugar syrup, my Rasmalai is more filled out and chubby).
- In the meanwhile, boil the water along with the sugar (1 cup) in a cooker pan/heavy bottomed, wide pan.
- Once the sugar has melted and the syrup has come to a boil, carefully drop the chenna balls one-by-one in the boiling syrup. Do NOT stir.
- Boil without lid for 5 minutes.
- Cover the cooker/pan. Bring to full pressure/cook on high heat (no need to use the weight for the cooker). Reduce heat and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove cooker/pan from flame.
- Soak the saffron strands in 1 tbsp of warm milk beforehand, to add to your ras.
- In the meanwhile, get the ras ready. Boil the full cream milk with the 1/2 cup sugar till it reduces to about 75% of its original volume.
- Now add the saffron-milk mixture to the ras. Stir well. The aroma of saffron that will hit your nostrils when you do this is aaah, divine!
- Simmer the flame to minimum and let the ras do its job.
- Now, back to the paneer babies we cooked in the sugar syrup…lift each baby with a wide, flat spatula and using the back side of a spoon, gently squeeze out the sugar-water. Don’t you worry about them getting disfigured. They will fluff right back up once they’ve soaked for a while in the ras.
- Drop each baby in the ras that you’ve made. Give the paneer babies and the ras about 3-4 minutes to get to know each other, with the simmered flame still on.
- Remove from flame and allow to come to room temperature naturally.
- Move to a nice serving bowl (preferably a little flat and wide glass dish so that the babies don’t get piled one above the other and end up getting crushed).
- Garnish with the pistachio flakes and refrigerate for atleast a few hours.
- Serve chilled, and soak up in the nirvana!
How tempted are you now to try this? The answer had better be ‘very’!! So whatcha’ waiting for then? Go, go…make yourself some right away. Don’t forget to come back and tell me how you liked it, OK? 🙂