This dessert originated in the Eastern Indian subcontinent. It is popular in Bangladesh, Kolkata in the Indian state of West Bengal. Ras translates to juice, and malai translates to milk. This is a festive Indian dessert made from milk, lemon, sugar and saffron. The spongy dessert is commonly served with pistachios. Texture. It’s considered to be healthy due to it being low in sugar and salt but high in calcium. It is a milky cream based dessert. Exotic. The dessert is always served cold.
During the process of making rasmalai, the milk is first thickened by boiling repeatedly and then lemon juice is mixed into the milk. It is then soaked in clotted cream and garnished using almonds, cashews and extra saffrons for extra flavour. It is considered to be a rich dessert item and would be served during events such as Diwali, Durga puja, holi among other festivals.
Although popular in India and other Eastern countries, it is slowly becoming popular in the UK and US due to its delicate flavours and unique textures. It is very different from what the Western world would consider a dessert and serves as a healthy alternative too many of the baked treats we have all grown to love.
When making soft rasmalai you should always use a whole milk or cream because if you use a low fat or fat free milk you will not get good results. This is because the rasmalai balls are made of milk fat. If you’re interested in making your very own rasmalai but you’re not sure where to start, we have done all the research for you, discover our recipe.
For the Rasmalai balls
1 litre whole milk
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 cup of sugar
For the ras syrup
500 ml whole milk
5-6 green cardamom pods peeled and crushed to get the powder
saffron a pinch
3-4 tablespoons sugar
finely chopped pistachios
1. Start by boiling some milk in a saucepan. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and add 1/2 cup of water to bring the temperature of the milk down a bit. Wait for 5-10 minutes and then start adding lemon juice to curdle the milk.
2. Use a strainer to drain the water and collect the curds. Rinse it under tap water so that there’s no trace of lemon juice in it. Leave it in the strainer for 10-15 minutes and then take the rasmalai curd in your hand and squeeze out remaining water. You should do this slowly.
3. Even though you have to squeeze all of the water out of the curds, you will will still need to make sure that it’s not completely dry. The milk fat should feel soft and moist even after you have squeezed out the water. So don’t press it too hard else it will become dry and will result in rasmalai balls that are not soft.
4. Add cornflour and mash the curds until it becomes smooth. Set an alarm for 10 minutes and continue mashing constantly using only your palm. Once it has become smooth you can then begin making small balls out of it.
Essential tip: When the balls are dipped in the sugar syrup, they will double in size and so you can make the balls to your preference. From 1 litre of milk, you can either make 15-17 small balls or if you prefer your rasmalai bigger then feel free to make around 10.
5. Heat 1 cup sugar and 4 cups water in a wide pan and wait till it comes to a full boil. Drop the balls in the boiling sugar syrup and cook them for about 15 minutes. The balls will double in size so ensure that you do not overcrowd and use a saucepan big enough.
Essential tip: After 15 minutes of cooking the balls should be cooked, if you want to you can drop them in some fresh water and if they sink to the bottom this means that they are done. This is not needed but is a good way to test if it is cooked, especially if it is your first time making rasmalai. Also ensure that whilst cooking that the saucepan is on the highest heat flame. If the balls get stuck to the bottom of the pan, keep adding a little water.
6. When the balls are cooked, let them cool to room temperature and begin preparing the thickened milk. In another saucepan boil 500ml of milk and separately soak a few strands of saffron in a tbsp of warm milk and set this aside for later.
7. After 25 minutes the milk would have thicker and then you can add the soaked saffron, the crushed cardamom and the pistachios if you want too. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and turn the heat off.
8. Lightly flatten your rasmalai balls and put them in the sugar syrup for around 15 minutes so that they can absorb the sugar flavour and then transfer them to the thickened milk. Chill in the fridge for 5 hours (ideally overnight) then garnish with some chopped pistachios and a few strands of saffron to serve. Enjoy.