Indian Cooking Challenge: Ras Malai

This month’s challenge is Ras Malai and I was more than happy to try out the recipe from scratch. Before I get to the recipe and the challenge, I would like to wish MySpicyKitchen on its 2nd Birthday!  Exactly two years ago, MyspicyKithen was born and today, what better way to celebrate it than with my favorite Indian sweet, Ras Malai!

As I have mentioned numerous times, growing up I was not fond of Indian desserts, Ras Malai and Basundi being the only two exceptions.  Over the years I developed such a sweet tooth that these days, anything sweet is divine to me 😮 Whenever I eat good Ras Malai, Balaji Bhajrang from Narayanguda Cross Roads in Hyderabad comes to mind.  Their Ras Malai was the best in the city when we were growing up.   I have not been their  in a long time and don’t know if their Ras Malai is still as good as it was few years ago.  When Valli announced the challenge for this month, I was excited to prepared it from scratch.  When I made it and tasted it yesterday, these sweet delicacies made me nostalgic and brought back the memories of Balaji Bhajrang Ras Malai and Basundi!

Ras Malai

Source: Lavi
Yields: 18 Pieces

Print Recipe

Ingredients:
  • Paneer
    • 2 quarts or 2 liters of Milk (I used 1 quart whole milk and 1 quart 2% milk)
    • 3 tbsp Lemon Juice
    • 1 tsp All Purpose Flour or Maida (for preparing the balls)
  • Syrup
    • 3 cups Water
    • 8 tbsp Sugar
  • Ras
    • 1 pint or 500 ml  Half & Half
    • 8 tbsp Sugar
    • 1/8 tsp Cardamom Seeds powdered
    • 8 strands of Saffron (I did not use it as I ran out of it)
    • 10 Pistachios chopped
Preparation:
  • Preparation of Paneer
    • Bring 2 quarts of 2 liters of milk to boil and simmer it for 5 minutes.
    • Add 3 tbsp of lime juice to milk and cook for another minute.  By now the milk with curdle and paneer will come together and separate from the whey. Whey is the liquid/water after the milk breaks.  I normally use yogurt and lime juice to prepare paneer but today I followed the recipe given by Lavi.
    • Drain the paneer and pour 2 cups of water over it rinse away the sourness of lime juice from the paneer.
    • Transfer the paneer to a cheese cloth or muslin cloth and squeeze as much water as possible.
    • Hang it for 1 hour.  I put the cheese cloth in a strainer and put a heavy pan and a mortar pestle on it to drain as much water or whey away from it.  Leave it for 1 hour.
    • When all the water is drained, take paneer to a plate or a bowl and need it well with your hand, as one would with chapati or roti dough.  Knead for 5 minutes.
    • Add 1 tsp of all purpose flour to paneer and mix it well.
    • Make small round balls with paneer.  Roll some paneer into round balls using both the palms and press it a little bit as in the picture below.  I made 18 balls.  Also remember that once we put these balls in the syrup they will double in size.  Hence make small balls.
  • Preparation of Syrup
    • In a wide pan bring 3 cups of water and 8 tbsp of sugar to boil.  I used my pressure pan.  Once water begins to boil, let it boil for another 2-4 minutes.
    • Gradually drop the paneer balls into the syrup.
    • Pressure cook the paneer balls for 2 whistles or Lavi says we can also pressure cook it for 10 minutes on low flame.  If not using a pressure cooker, cooking the paneer balls for 20 minutes on medium high should work.  I have not tried this but just a suggestion, in case one does not have a pressure cooker.
    • Turn of the heat and let it cool. Once the pressure is gone, open the pan.  Although I used a pressure pan, it was not wide enough.  All the balls stuck to to on another.  However, it was easy to separate  and reshape them.
    • Press each paneer ball gently to squeeze the syrup from it and drop it in the Ras.
  • Preparation of Ras
    • Start the Ras preparation when you turn of the pressure cooker.  While the pressure cooker cools down, we can prepare the Ras.
    • Lavi called for 1 liter or 1 quart of milk and asked to  boil it and simmer it until the milk is reduced to half its quantity.  If using milk, we need to start this preparation at the same time we start the preparation of the Syrup.
    • I used Half and Half milk to prepare Ras.  So I started this preparation once I switched off the pressure cooker.   Bring half and half to boil and simmer it for 5 minutes.
    • Add 8 tbsp of sugar, cardamom powder and saffron and cook for about a minute.
    • Then add the paneer balls that were cooked in syrup.  Remember to squeeze out the syrup from the paneer balls.  Ras Malai is done!
    • Cool the ras malai and refrigerate it until ready to serve.
    • Garnish with chopped pistachios.

Although there were too many steps involved in  this preparation and was a lengthy process, it was not laborious  preparation at all.  The only time consuming and tiresome task for me was kneading and making paneer balls.

When I tasted it yesterday afternoon, just after the preparation, even before chilling the Ras Malai, I felt the paneer balls was not sweet enough and I thought I might have used the wrong measuring spoon to measure the sugar when preparing the  syrup.  This morning when I tasted it, Ras Malai was perfect and the paneer balls were also sweet enough for my taste.  They were just perfect and the trick I think  was letting it soak.   Thanks Valli for choosing Ras Malai and thanks Lavi for the recipe!

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