Soft, spongy cheese dumplings soaked in sweet vanilla, cardamom and saffron milk. Inspired by the classic Bengali dessert, this version is served chilled and the flavours are reminiscent of the Indian ice cream, kulfi.
1whole vanilla podsplit and scraped (reserve the pod)
4green cardamom podsseeds crushed
1small pinch saffron8-10 strands
For the chhena:
2tbsplemon juice mixed with 1 tbsp water
For the sugar syrup:
2tspcornflour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
You will also need:
8-10dried rose petalsto garnish (optional)
Edible gold/silverto garnish (optional)
1/2tspoil for greasing the base of the pan used for boiling the milk for malai pieces
For the masala doodh:
Pour the milk and cream into a large, heavy-based saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the sugar, vanilla beans and pod, saffron and ground cardamom seeds. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to low.
Allow to simmer, uncovered until reduced by half, about 40 minutes. Stir often to avoid the milk burning on the base of the pan. Once reduced, remove from the heat, cover with a lid and set aside.
When cool, strain the masala doodh to remove any skin that may have formed during the boiling process and the vanilla pod. You can pop any saffron back into the milk. Stir in the almonds and pistachios. This step might seem over the top but I promise it will make a huge difference to the finished dessert. Those excess pieces of malai from boiling the milk can really affect the finish of the Rasmalai.
For the chhena:
Rub the base of a large, heavy-based pan with 1/2 tsp oil. This makes cleaning up much easier later on. Pour the milk into the pan and bring to a full boil.
Switch the heat off and add the lemon and water mixture a tablespoon at a time, stirring briefly between each addition until the milk curdles. Once the curds have separated from the whey, add the ice water to stop the cooking process. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Line a colander with muslin or cheesecloth and place it in the sink. If you’d like to reserve the whey for another recipe later, you can place the colander in a large bowl to catch the drained liquid. Alternatively, let it drain away.
Carefully pour the mixture into the lined colander. Remove the bowl from under the colander (if using). Rinse the curds under cold, running water to remove any sourness from the vinegar.
Gather the corners of the cloth and twist to enclose the curds. Gently twist the cloth to remove excess moisture. Place the bundle back inside the colander resting on a plate or bowl. Apply approximately 1kg of pressure on top of bundle. You can use 3-4 tins of beans or a pan of water. Anything stable that will be heavy enough to press out excess whey. Allow to press for 30 minutes.
NOTE: Because you rubbed the base of the pan with oil prior to starting, any milk that settled and burned on the base of the pan will lift away easily so you don’t have to spend ages scrubbing it.
For the sugar syrup:
In a large, deep saucepan combine the water, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Clip a sugar thermometer to the side to the saucepan. Allow to boil until the syrup reaches “thread” consistency (105C/220F). Turn the heat down to very low and cover with a lid.
To make the malai pieces (rasgulla) from chhena:
Remove the weights from on top of the chenna bundle and unwrap. Place the chenna onto a large, clean work surface. Dab with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
Break the chenna into rough pieces and begin to knead it with your hand. Use the heel of your palm to spread the chenna as thinly as possible against the work surface, using a long, sliding motion. Apply pressure to press out all graininess and gather the mixture together again. Repeat this action 40-50 times until all traces of graininess have disappeared and the chenna is smooth. It should take 10-12 minutes. It should be soft and smooth, not grainy or greasy.
Divide the chenna into 24 pieces. Lightly oil your hands and roll into balls, pressing against your palms to ensure the ball is smooth and crack free. Lightly press to form a disc or patty, about 3cm in diameter. Repeat for all the pieces.
To cook the malai pieces:
Bring the syrup back to a rolling boil. Add the cornflour and water slurry and stir briefly. Next, carefully drop 6 malai discs into the hot syrup. Don’t overcrowd the pan as the pieces will inflate (double or triple in size during the cooking process). Place the lid back on and return the lid to the pan.
Boil hard for 15 minutes until the malai pieces have doubled in size. Keep a kettle or separate pan of hot water aside and ladle hot water into the pan every 5 minutes during cooking. This will ensure the sugar syrup remains at the same consistency. If the malai pieces are turning dark, the syrup is too concentrated. Add hot water and bring it back to the correct temperature.
Once 15 minutes are up, turn the heat down and remove the cooked rasgullas with a slotted spoon and drain excess syrup. Place it in a bowl of ice water immediately to stop the cooking process. Allow to sit in the water for 3 minutes and then very gently, press each piece between your palms to remove excess liquid and to flatten it very slightly.
Slide each rasgulla into the masala doodh. They are now Rasmalai.
Repeat the process above for the remaining three batches of malai. Ensure the sugar syrup is the correct consistency throughout by adding more water at regular 5 minute intervals during the boiling process. Use a timer!
Once all the pieces have been added to the masala doodh, cover the pan and refrigerate for 8-10 hours for the malai pieces to absorb the masala doodh. Garnish with the optional dried rose petals and edible gold/silver leaf.
The Rasmalai can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.This Rasmalai is not suitable for freezing.