Rasmalai is a delicious and lip-smacking dessert made with homemade cottage cheese (paneer). It’s super yummy and has an incredible melt-in-your-mouth texture that will leave you craving for more! It’s egg-free and gluten-free too.The term Rasmalai is made up of two words – Ras+malai, where ‘ras’ means syrup or juice and ‘malai’ means cream. Together it creates a luscious treat that makes each and every bite of this rasmalai truly irresistible!!
If you are not familiar with this treat then let me first give you a heads up. Rasmalai is the Indian version of soft and spongy flattened paneer (cottage cheese) balls that are soaked in thickened saffron milk and garnished with silvered dry nuts.
Now, onto the recipe!
The first step that involves preparation of paneer balls is somewhat similar to rasgulla recipe. Soft and spongy paneer balls are made just the way rasgullas are made.
Paneer balls are not difficult to make; it just takes a little bit of time, practice, and patience. Once you have mastered the art of making crack-free paneer balls, I’m confident that the next steps will be easy for you.
INGREDIENTS FOR PANEER
2 Litre Full cream milk
1/4 cup Lemon Juice or vinegar
600 ml Full cream milk (about 2.5 cups)
1.25 cups Condensed / Milk Powder
1/3 cup Sugar
3 tablespoon Thinly sliced dry nuts (almonds,pistachios)
1/8 teaspoon Saffron strands
1/2 teaspoon Eliachi Powder (Cardamon Powder)
2 cup Water
1 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Rose water or Kewra essence
Boil milk in a heavy bottom pan. TIP – Always use full cream milk to make paneer. The fat content in full milk makes the best paneer.
When the milk becomes frothy and bubbles start to form on top that’s the time to add vinegar/lemon juice. TIP – Wait for milk to get bubbly before adding the acid. This will result in perfect chenna/paneer.
Pour in vinegar/lemon juice.
Slowly mix vinegar/lemon juice in the milk and milk will curdle.
When the whey/liquid in curdle milk turns to pale green in color, take the pan off the flame.
Meanwhile line a strainer with muslin cloth.
Quickly strain paneer. TIP – Letting it sit will result in hard and chewy rasmalai.
Wash paneer under cold water to get rid of vinegar/lemon juice taste. TIP – This will wash away all the taste of acid from paneer.
Squeeze paneer and allow the water to drain.
You can also hang paneer/chenna for 20- 30 minutes until the water stops dripping. TIP – This step is important. If water is not drained well from paneer, rasmalai pieces will start to disintegrate in sugar syrup.
Remove paneer from cloth. Paneer should feel crumbly but moist.
KNEADING AND SHAPING PANEER
Start kneading the paneer like a dough.
Use your whole palm and fingers to knead paneer. It will take somewhere between 9-10 minutes to knead it into a smooth dough. TIP – Knead paneer with your hands. Have tried kneading it in a food processor but the result was not satisfactory.
Take paneer dough in your hand.
Squeeze it tight. It should not feel sticky at all. In fact it should feel creamy and roll smoothly in between your palms. TIP – Squeeze and press in between your palms couple of times before rolling it like a ball. This will prevent cracks.
Gently press in between your palms and flatten the balls. Set it aside and repeat the process with rest of the paneer.
Combine water and sugar in a pan. Add essence of your choice. Bring it a boil.
Slowly add flattened paneer pieces to the syrup. Do not overcrowd the pan.TIP – Make sure there is enough room for the paneer balls to expand during boiling. Leave some space for the pieces to float. Reduce the flame to MEDIUM LOW.
Slowly the pieces will start to float up.
When all the pieces float to the surface..
Cover the pan with the lid and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes on a medium low flame.
Flatten paneer pieces will swell in size. Take it off the flame and allow it to cool.
When comfortable to touch, take a flattened paneer piece and squeeze out all the syrup. Press gently.
When all the syrup is pressed out, paneer pieces will come back to its original shape. Set it aside.
PREPARING THE SYRUP
Onto the final step. Assemble ingredients.
In a heavy bottomed pan, add milk and bring it to a boil. Add in sugar, saffron strands and milk powder / Condensed Milk.
Whisk until well blended.
Continue boiling at a medium flame stirring continuously. Stir in thinly sliced nuts and mix. Keep stirring and boil the milk for 20-25 minutes. Milk will thicken to a desired consistency – neither to thick nor too liquid.
Carefully drop in flattened paneer balls.
Allow the flatten paneer balls to simmer in hot syrup for 1-2 minutes.
Take it off the flame, cover and let the paneer pieces soak in the syrup.
Transfer it to a big bowl and allow it to chill. Tastes better when chilled.