Saturday, November 13, 2010
Rasmalai - A Indian classic
Recently, I heard some interesting history about these paneer sweets from Murali's manager, Sarkar. He said, rasgulla (rasmalai's cousin soaked in sugar syrup instead of milk) was invented by Nobin Das, who was a confectioner in Kolkata when a ball of paneer accidentally fell into boiling sugar syrup. I was doing some research and found that there is no agreement whether the sweet originated in Bengal or Orissa. Read more about it here. Whoever invented it, they did a great job having brought to the world such an amazing sweet.
My first experience (that I remember) of rasmalai is in Chennai, when my maternal uncle would bring the sweet home from the famous sweet shop 'Shree Mithai'. Ever since, their rasmalai has become my favourite. Once, when I was in school, my mom and I tried to make rasgulla and did not turn out good. After that, I never tried to make this sweet at home until I found an easy recipe online in Priya's kitchen to make them from ricotta cheese. There were so many reviews from people who followed the recipe and it turned out great. I tried it last Diwali and somehow managed to goof it up... I decided to try the original long version recipe next time, which I did this Diwali.
I followed the recipe from showmethecurry.com. I replaced lemon with yogurt to curdle the milk while making paneer. Also, I did not thicken the ras (milk) as much as they did. I am repeating the same recipe from 'Show me the Curry', modifying the steps that I did differently, adding my tips if I have any, and adding step by step pictures where ever I can.
For paneer balls:
Whole Milk – 5 cups
Yogurt - 1 cup
Water – 5 cups (in a pressure cooker)
Sugar – 1 cup
For ras (milk):
Whole Milk – 3 cups
Saffron – pinch
Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp
Pistachios & Almonds – 2 Tbsp, roughly chopped
Sugar for the Ras – to taste
Boil 5 cups of milk.
Set up a cheese cloth over a colander in the kitchen sink.
When the milk comes to a rolling boil, add the yogurt.
The milk should start to curdle. If you do not see enough curdling after about 10-15 seconds, add a drop or 2 of lemon juice.
Remove from heat and pour the contents over the cheese cloth. Be careful, the contents are very hot.
Gather the cheese cloth into a ball and hang it from the kitchen sink tap to drain all whey water. Leave it up to 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat 3 cups of milk (for ras) in a non-stick vessel. When milk starts to foam up, add saffron and sugar to taste. Mix well and let the milk simmer until it reaches required consistency. I let it reduce to 3/4ths of its original volume. Add cardamom and the nuts and keep aside. I could not find raw pistachios in any store - looks like some quality control issues and no store carries it currently in US. I used only almond pieces.
When the hanging paneer has cooled enough to touch, squeeze out as much whey water as possible and remove from cheese cloth.
Break paneer and knead until it becomes smooth and fluffy. Using a food processor makes the process easy and quick. I do not own a food processor, hence used my blender. Make sure the container and the blades are completely dry - else, paneer would get sticky.
Roll the kneaded paneer into small balls and flatten them. These balls would become 2-3 times their original size, so keep them small.
In a pressure cooker with water, add the sugar and the paneer balls. Cook the paneer balls in the pressure cooker with weight until one whistle sounds. Remove from heat and set the timer for 5 minutes. After exactly 5 minutes, release the pressure by placing the pressure cooker under running water in the kitchen sink.
Open the pressure cooker. Remove the paneer balls onto a plate using a slotted spoon and let it cool. When they have cooled enough to touch, squeeze the water out of each one and drop them gently one by one in the prepared milk to make super duper rasmalai. (If dropped into sugar syrup, it becomes rasgulla!!! - two recipes in one post!!)
Cool in the refrigerator and let it soak the sweet flavoured milk. To serve, transfer couple of malai balls to a serving plate, add some ras (milk), garnish with saffron and almonds and enjoy every bite.