Delicate & creamy cottage cheese dumpling soaked in thick creamy milk, sweetened & lightly flavored with nuts, cardamom, & saffron.
Diwali at home is always a time of celebration & indulgence. The snacks and sweet treats were all made days ahead for everyone to enjoy and every day of Diwali there would be a different sweet treat made along with lunch or dinner to celebrate the festival.
Rasmalai wasn't a dish I grew up on, although I really did enjoy it every so often when it was brought home from the sweetmeat vendors. We never made any milk-based cheese at home as it involved deliberately "breaking" the milk. My mom always told me that it was seen as an act of breaking up a family and that was something that we never deliberately did. So paneer, rasmalai or rasgullas were always things that we bought rather than made at home.
But a few years ago my mom decided to make this dish for us "following the rules of the house." She used store bought rasmalai and whipped up this delicious concoction for all of us to enjoy, and it slowly became a constant during our family celebrations.
Here's the recipe for an easy peasy rasmalai that'll have your guests swooning!
• 2/3 cup combined almonds & pistachios, soaked in warm water to remove the skins
• 1 liter whole milk
• 250 ml whipping cream
• 250 ml heavy cream
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon saffron strands (a loose pinch), soaked in very little warm milk
• 1 tight pinch ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon rose extract, optional
• 1/2 teaspoon dried rose petals, garnish
• 1 teaspoon slivered almonds, garnish
• 1 teaspoon chopped pistachios, garnish
In a deep, large, heavy bottomed pot add in all the milk and cream and place in a medium-low flame to reduce. Make sure to stir the milk occasionally to ensure that the milk doesn't boil over, or burn and stick to the bottom.
While the milk is reducing, open up the can of rasmalai & gently squeeze out the syrup from the dumplings and set aside. Be careful to not be too rough with these as the dumplings are very delicate and can fall apart with too much handling & pressure.
In a small dish, add in a teaspoon of the warm milk and add in the saffron to bloom & extract the color. Let sit for a few minutes.
Add the pistachios & almonds to a blender, add in about 1/4 cup of the warm milk (from the pan) and blend to a smooth paste. You need to ensure that the paste is very smooth and lump free. This is our main flavor base for the milk and any texture in the paste will affect the final texture of the dish.
Once the milk has reduced enough to be the consistency of heavy cream, add in the nut paste, nutmeg, cardamom powder, & saffron, stir well to ensure all of the nut paste is well mixed and cook on a medium-low flame to thicken the milk further.
After about 7-10 minutes, add in the sugar & dissolve well. Then add in the rasmalai dumplings & bring the mixture to a simmer (should take about 5 - 7 minutes on a medium flame).
Turn off the flame, partially cover the pot & set aside to cool. Make sure that you don't allow the condensed water on the lid to fall into the pot. This might affect the consistency of the dish.
Once the pot is at room temperature cover the pot completely & refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours. This will help thicken the cream & allow the dumplings to soften & absorb as much of the cream as possible.
This is best served cold garnished with a small pinch of saffron, some dried rose petals, and a few toasted nuts.
• The nut paste is originally made with pistachios. I find that with ground pistachios there sometimes can be an unpleasant bitter after taste, to counter balance that I add in almonds to sweeten the mixture. You can omit the almonds and use only pistachios and the dish will taste absolutely wonderful
• There are some versions that add in rose extract into the milk as well. I am not the biggest fan of rose extract in my rasmalai but if you like the subtle rose flavoring add in 1/4 teaspoon of rose extract to the milk along with the other flavorings. Make sure that your rose extract is food safe, if not it will curdle the milk as soon as it's added in.