Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dil Maange More! Ras Malai

My family has a serious sweet tooth. They inherit it from A's side of the family, just like every other not-so-good attribute! After all, aren't sweets supposed to be unhealthy and addictive? So what if, out of all four of us, I show the most evidence of devouring even a micro-ounce of all things sweet and chocolaty, while they get away with no effects. I strongly believe all things sugary should be put under a federal list, and should come with a eat-or-go to jail warning! And that is why, we run a strictly quarantined household as far as desserts go. However, the rules get broken- more frequently than not.

Every weekend when the three of them gang up against me and threaten to go on a strike-against-eating-veggies ..... This past weekend's threat earned them an Indian dessert that the girls love- Ras Malai. We have bought frozen packs of this from our Indian grocery store at times, but I'd never attempted to make this at home. For one, it seemed just way to much trouble to curdle milk for the chenna to make it. And then, I really didn't feel like spending hours in simmering milk for the Ras. Recently, at a friend's place I heard someone talk about using ricotta cheese for making Ras Malai. Back home, quick googling brought me to Priya's Rasmalai recipe, and a step-by-step tutorial. Seemed easy enough, and so I tried it the first time without changing anything. The results were scrumptious. The next time I just made some small changes to suit our individual taste. Here's a recap of my version of Ras Malai.
Ras Malai 
(Ricotta cheese dumplings in a heavy cream sauce) 
For the Malai (dumplings): 
 Ricotta cheese 15oz container
Sugar 1/4 cup (I used a little less than that)
  1. Beat sugar and cheese together with a spatula till smooth and mixed together.
  2. Then spoon about 1 1/2 tbsp of the mixture into each cup of a cupcake/muffin tray. Smooth tops with the back of a spoon. 
  3. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 30 min, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool. 
  4. Remove from the tray- use the toothpick to separate the edges, if needed.  
For the Ras (syrup):
Ricotta cheese one half of 15oz container
Half-n-half One pint container (473ml)
Sugar 3/4 cup
A few strands of saffron
Crushed cardamom 4-5pods
Rosewater/kewra essence 1/2tsp
  1. Soak saffron strands in about 1tbsp of cold half-n-half and keep aside. 
  2. Blend half-n-half and cheese together in a blender till completely mixed. Transfer the mixture to medium-low heat and simmer for about 20 min. This will require monitoring and periodic stirring. 
  3. Now add the saffron, crushed cardamom and sugar and let simmer for another 10 min. 
  4. Turn off the heat, add the rose water, and let cool to room temperature.  
To serve: Layer the malai in a serving dish, and pour the ras over it. The dumplings will float. Chill for a couple of hours , preferably overnight. Garnish with slivered almonds and pistachios before serving.  
My two cents:I had to tone down the sugar from the original recipe, especially in the dumplings. Also, I learned the hard way that you don't want the cheese to start turning brown while baking. Take the tray out of the oven as soon as the toothpick comes out somewhat clean, the cheese will harden a bit while cooling too. Similarly, the ras as described in the original recipe was too fluid for me. Adding ricotta cheese to the ras before cooking it gave it a rabadi-like consistency, which is exactly what I was aiming at. All-in-all, an excellent way to ease your aching sweet teeth!!

Linking this to MMK-Indian Mithai Mela @ Kayani's and Lets Celebrate- Indian Sweets event