Rasmalai is simply the dessert to beat
October 19 2017 08:39 PM
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DELICIOUS: Rasmalai, basically a creamy and milky syrup, originated in North India. Photo by the author

With the festive season in full swing all that we think is to celebrate and enjoy mouth-watering desserts. 
Rasmalai tops the chart as the exotic festive sweet. Rasmalai is a combination of two words “Ras” meaning juice and “Malai” meaning cream. The dessert is also described as a rich cheese cake without a crust. The name itself is exotic and denotes the richness of this delicate Indian sweet. Rasmalai undoubtedly tops the list of all Indian milk based desserts. Rasmalai is a dessert originating from the eastern part of India as almost all the milk and cream based desserts originated in that part of India. 
According to one of the local sweet shops in Kolkata, this Bengali origin dessert was first made and perfected by KC Das. Although these claims are not easily verifiable. 
Another dessert popular and originated from Eastern India is the Rasgulla also known as the sponge Rasgulla due to its spongy texture. An important factor while cooking any food item is the water used in the preparation. The water will have its peculiar ratio of the minerals and other natural additives which will greatly affect the recipe and that’s why some particular items are related and taste better in one region only. Example, the New York pizza will taste better in New York as compared to the other regions. Similarly the Rasmalai or Rasgulla prepared in Bengal always tastes better when prepared there as compared to the rest of the India. 
Rasmalai is basically a creamy and milky syrup that consist of Chenna (cottage cheese) balls. The syrup is purely made from milk, sugar, cream and saffron mixture. The super soft cottage cheese in the recipe is the essence of the recipe and makes it a great dessert for special occasion and is always served chilled. The Chenna should not be over cooked as that will result in a hard mass which cannot be called a Rasmalai. There are few variants of this exotic dessert like the fruit versions like mags Rasmalai, blueberry Rasmalai, strawberry Rasmalai, angoori Rasmalai and chenna payesh. 
The sugary white cream coloured or yellow coloured balls of chenna soaked in rich milk cream flavoured with saffron, cardamom, rose water and pistachio. Unlike other Indian desserts this dessert needs skill and practice to perfect and get it right. The biggest problem while making Rasmalai at home is that the Rasmalai balls often turn out hard whereas they should be totally soft and in fact melt in mouth that’s when you know that you have perfected this classic Indian dessert. 


Rasmalai

Ingredients
For the rasmalai balls
Whole milk 1 litre
Lemon juice 1 tbsp
Corn flour 1 tsp
Water 4 cups
Sugar 2 cups
For the syrup
Whole milk 500 ml
Cardamom pods 3-4 no
Saffron strands few strands
Sugar 4 tbsp
Pistachio, chopped 1 tbsp


Method:

For the rasmalai balls, boil milk in a heavy bottom container.
Once the milk has boiled, turn off the flame and add 1/2 cup of water to the milk to bring down the temperature.
Wait for 8-10 minutes to allow the milk to cool down and add lemon juice to curdle the milk.
Add more lemon juice till the milk curdles completely.
Using a strainer drain the water and collect the chenna.
Rinse the chenna under cold running water to remove the traces of lemon juice and reduce the sour taste of lemon.
Leave in the strainer for 10-15 minutes to drain out any water and squeeze out to remove the water.
Add corn flour and start smoothening the chenna with your palm until it is smooth.
Make sure to smoothen the mixture to ensure it is smooth. 
Divide equally and roll into small sized balls. 
Heat 1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of water in a wide pan and wait until it comes to full boil.
Flatten the balls using your palms and slide them into the sugar syrup and cook for 10-12 minutes to cook them and bind them together
The balls will double in size by then.
Strain the balls from the syrup and drop them in fresh water, if they sink in bottom they are cooked properly.
For the thickened sweetened milk, boil 500 ml of milk in a heavy bottom pan
Add few saffron strands, crushed cardamom pods, chopped pistachio and bring to boil, ice the milk boils, reduce the flame and reduce the milk for 20-25 minutes.
Once the milk is reduced add sugar and mix, allow the milk to cool down to warm temperature.
Transfer the balls to the thickened milk and chill in refrigerator for 5-6 hours.
Garnish with chopped pistachio and saffron strands and serve chilled
Note: Being a milk based dessert the shelf life of this dessert is 1 or 2 days and should be ideally consumed on the same day of preparation.


* Chef Tarun Kapoor,  Culinary Mastermind,  USA. He may be contacted at [email protected]




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