My affinity for sweets has often prompted me to venture into the realm of desserts both indigenous as well as from across the planet. However, the one sweet dish that I have prepared the maximum number of times; admired by one and all and which also brought me a reward, is the famous Bengali sweet, Rasmalai! Those soft white cottage cheese balls(rosogolla) soaked in thick rabdi (thickened milk) flavoured with green cardamom and saffron are a lip-smacking delicacy indeed.
East India, notably Bengal, is famous for its assortment of milk-based mithais and Rasmalai is one of those delicacies. This classic, festive dessert is highly popular across the land. In Bengal, the rabdi is not very thick, whereas in some other parts of the country the malai is indeed thick to add to the richness of the dessert!
Food transcends all barriers. The Rasmalai which had its advent in the Eastern part of India has now made its way to various parts of the country, mutating to suit the palate of each region even though the fundamental technique remains the same!
Cuisine- Indian dessert
Preparation time- 30 min (approx.)
Cooking time- 45min – 1 hr.
Serves- 6-8 persons
- Full cream cow’s milk- 1 litre
- Vinegar- 5 tbsp mixed with 5 tbsp of water
- Flour- 1 tsp
- Sugar- 2 cups
- Water- 4 cups
For thickened milk or Rabdi-
- Full cream milk- 1 litre
- Powder milk- ¼ cup
- Sugar- ¼ cup
- Saffron- few strands(optional)
- Green cardamom powder- 1 tsp
- Pistachio and almond flakes- 2 tbsp(optional)
slightly flattened Rosogollas
Boil and curdle milk using Vinegar mixed with water. Strain the cottage cheese in a maslin cloth and hang it for 1 hour. Do not discard the whey.
After about an hour mash the cottage cheese using the back of your palm. Add flour and mash it for at least 8-10 min or till the texture of the cottage cheese becomes smooth and silky.
Make small balls and keep aside. From one litre milk you will get 10-12 rosogollas depending upon the size.
Make sugar syrup by boiling 2 cups of sugar in 2 ½ cups of water. Boil it till the sugar dissolves completely. Here one thing to keep in mind that for Rosogolla we do not need thick syrup.
Add the cottage cheese balls to the syrup and cover and cook on high flame for 5 min. Then reduce the heat and boil for 15 min on low heat.
Switch off the gas and let the rosogollas remain in that syrup for few hours. This way they will absorb the syrup entirely and remain soft.
Preparing the Rabdi or thickened milk:
Put 1 lit full fat milk in a heavy bottomed pan. Once the milk starts boiling, reduce the heat and keep boiling on low flame, stirring occasionally till it reduces to half lit.
Mix ¼ cup of powder milk to ½ cup of water and add to the reduced milk stirring continuously. This way the milk will thicken further.
Add sugar and keep on stirring for few seconds to dissolve the sugar completely.
Switch off the gas. Add few strands of saffron and green cardamom powder. Mix it well.
Take a serving bowl. Squeeze syrup from Rosogolla by placing it in between your palm and press gently. Be careful to not break the rosogolla.
Arrange the Rosogollas in the dish and pour the hot rabdi over it.
Decorate with chopped pistachio and almond flakes.
When it comes to room temperature, put it in the fridge to set well.
To prepare soft and spongy Rosogolla good quality cow’s milk is essential.
Mash the cottage cheese very well till it starts releasing oil. The softness of the sweet depends on how you mash it.
The syrup in which the Rosogollas are prepared should be thin in nature.
Regarding Rabdi or the thickened milk, the use of milk powder is optional. So is the use of saffron. Omit the latter if you prefer white Rasmalai. But one thing to be noted that other than providing that rich colour, saffron adds flavour to the dish as well.