Blogging has changed my outlook towards cooking. Cooking for me is no more just something that I do to fill our stomachs but it has acquired a completely different facet. I go to extreme lengths now to make the food look as good as it tastes. And when there is a blog event that challenges me to bring out the best in me I am definitely game. That's exactly what Meeta's Monthly Mingle has done. The theme she has presented us (or rather challenged us with) this month is Bollywood Cooking. It's a fabulous theme with a wide variety of dishes to explore. Glamorous as Bollywood is , I thought my dish had to be equally glamorous . And my Kesar Rasmalai is just that. It's elegant, sophisticated, and has just the right balance sweetness and creaminess. I also wanted to try out something from a different culture than mine.
The other reason why I chose to make a Bengali sweet like Rasmalai is to celebrate all the beautiful Bengali actresses in Bollywood. Right from the beautiful Suchitra Sen and talented Aparna Sen, Jaya Bhaduri and Sharmila Tagore to current heartthrobs like Rani and Bipasha, Sushmita and Konkana the Bengali babes have ruled the silver screen in every decade. So here's to you girls!
Coming back to the recipe now, I an really surprised myself as to how well it came out. It is not difficult at all just a bit time consuming. My suggestion to all those who try it out is to make it at leisure when you have plenty of time on hand. Preferably when hubby and kids are out of the way.
For the malai (or paneer balls):
1 lt cow milk,
1/4 cup lemon juice or ordinary vinegar,
6 cups water to cook the balls,
1 cup sugar,
1 tspn cardamom powder,
1 tray of ice cubes to be kept handy.
Ingredients for the flavoured milk:
1 can 400 gms evaporated milk,
750 ml whole milk,
15 tspns sugar,
1 tspn saffron soaked in a little warm milk,
1 tspn cardamom powder
Method for Malai balls:
1. Boil the milk in a heavy bottom pan.
2. Add to it the lemon juice when the milk begins to rise. This will instantly curdle the milk. As soon as the milk curdles switch off the gas and pour in the ice cubes to stop the cooking at once. Place a lid on the pan for a few minutes.
3. Remove the lid and strain the curdled milk through a clean muslin which is placed in a colander. Wash the paneer under running water to remove all the traces of the lemon juice.
4. Tie the ends of the muslin and hang the paneer for at least 1/2 hour so that all the water in it is completely drained out.
5. Meanwhile mix the evaporated milk and the whole milk and put on the heat to boil in a non-stick pan . Once it comes to a boil lower the heat to minimum and continue stirring the milk until it thicken just a little. This will take about 1/2 an hour. Continuous stirring is important or the milk might stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
6.Once the milk thickens switch off the gas ,stir in the sugar , saffron and cardamom powder. Keep aside and let it cool a bit.
7. Before removing the paneer from the muslin give it a gentle knead through the muslin so that it comes out smooth in texture.
8. Now roll out small balls and flatten them slightly with your palm. Just like to see in the pic below. 1 litre of milk will make about 15 . Balls should not be too big as they do swell after they are cooked in the sugar and water syrup. 9. Boil the 6 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar in a large pan till sugar dissolves. The syrup should be kept boiling on a high flame when you drop the paneer balls in it. This is very important. If the lower the heat the balls will simply break in the water and disintegrate. Place a lid over the pan and let the paneer balls cook for 6 to 7 minutes on high flame.
10. They rise to the top and get fine cracks on the surface when they are completely cooked. To remove them first take a few ladles of the hot syrup in a bowl and then place the cooked balls from the pan into this bowl. They stay intact and firm when they are kept in liquid. Let them cool down a bit .
11. When you add the paneer balls to the flavoured sweet milk remember that the balls and the milk should both be lukewarm. Add the balls gently to the milk and place in the fridge to cool the dish thoroughly before serving. This dish is best made one day in advance. Before serving garnish generously with sliced almonds and pistachios for that special touch.
I really urge all of you to try this dish out at least once. It's just too delicious for words. I hope Meeta tries it out too. Knowing her, she will!