Traditional Indian sweets always have a special place for special occasions. Ras Malai ( flattened Rasgullas / cottage cheese discs dunked in milky syrup) is one such sweet, which will always remain close to my heart. Our childhood celebrations and gatherings had this as a fixed item on menu. Now , after marriage, staying in a place which boasts of a rich heritage of sweets made of chenna ( unprocessed cheese made from splitting milk), and which is known to be the place of origin of chenna poda, I was delighted to have a vast variety to indulge in. With the ongoing mango season just about concluding, tried this mangoyi variation of famous Ras Malai , hence the name AamRasMalai!
Here are the ingredients : ( yields 15-18 medium sized discs)
To make cheese balls/ discs:
- Milk ( I used regular Cow milk available in packets which is 3% fat )- 2 to 2.5 litres.
- Vinegar / juice of lemon – 1 to 2 tablespoons
- sugar- 1 cup
- water- 1 cup
For the milky syrup:
- Full fat milk ( I used amul gold )- 1 litre
- sugar- 2-3 tablespoons
- Mango pulp (pureed and strained)- 1 cup
- Roasted and finely chopped dry fruits ( I used pistas, you can use almonds or any other dry fruit)- ¼ cup
- Saffron- a pinch of strands soaked in warm milk
Splitting the milk:
- In a container, boil milk, once done keep it on medium flame and gradually add lemon juice or vinegar. Do not mix.
- Check for the signs of splitting/curdling, the whey seperating as light yellowish liquid from the solid cheese. If the milk isn’t curdling with one tablespoon, keep adding few more drops, stop in between to check again for signs of splitting.
- Once the whey seperates clearly,switch off the flame drain away the liquid, collect the cheese in a colander or muslin cloth. Press it slightly to remove excess liquid.
- When the cheese is slightly cooled, place it on a clean platform and using heel of the palms, gently rub it in circular motion ( for around 4-5 minutes), so that the granules break, the fat/oil is released from the cheese and it form a cohesive mass. This step is important to get a cheese mass of doughy consistency to work on.
- Pinch off small piece of cheese, make a round and flatten it between palms. Keep aside.
- Meanwhile prepare sugar syrup by boiling water, then adding sugar and stirring till it dissolves.
- When the syrup is boiling, leave the cottage cheese discs in the syrup slowly . Do not simmer the gas, you can slightly reduce the flame to medium, the syrup has to keep bubbling all the time till the cheese is cooked. cover the container with a lid.
- This will take around 12-15 minutes.
- While this is cooking, in another container, reduce full fat milk to almost half, add sugar, saffron, chopped nuts.
- Switch off the flame, allow it to cool down.
- Once its cooled, add mango pulp into it, mix well and keep aisde.
- Drain excess syrup from the cooked cheese balls, drop them into the milk syrup.
- Note 1: Different varieties of milk gives different texture to chenna. At times its difficult to nail the exact ‘spongy-rubbery’ consistency with packet milk, as it has lot of additives. If I have to make this sweet for any special occasion, I prefer using the ready made chenna which yields a more ‘store brought like’ texture to the Ras Malai.
- Note 2 : If you don’t want to make the mangoyi variation, omit the mango pulp, increase the quantity of milk by half litre and rest all remains same.
- Garnish with more nuts. Enjoy as chilled or warm dessert!!