If you've ever had rasmalai you know how irresistible it is. It's a creamy, crunchy, pleasantly sweet treat with light and fluffy pillows of chenna (Indian cottage cheese) in a sweet, fragrant, milky syrup called rabri. Rasmalai can be found in many Indian restaurants in the U.S., but don't be intimidated by the prospect of making this delicious dessert at home. You only need to take a few specific precautions to get those perfectly pillowy discs from scratch. It all starts with a good chenna: The key to achieving perfect chenna is first making sure that all the liquidy whey is separated from the curds, and second, proper kneading.
The word "ras" means juice and the word "malai" means cream, which quite literally describes the qualities of this dish. It's flavored with traditional Bengali flavors of cardamom and saffron, which lend a delicate perfumed flavor. Texture is everything in this dish, and the main reason the removal of moisture from the chenna is so important is that the whey will make the rasmalai hard and crumbly. The other reason is that the cheese disks are boiled in a flavored sugar syrup, which they then absorb to become fluffy. The presence of excess moisture will hinder this process.
It's All About The Chenna
Chenna is essentially cottage cheese that is produced when an acid like vinegar or lemon juice is added to whole-fat milk. This separates the curds from the whey, leaving you with a spongy base for rasmalai. The trick to making good chenna is allowing the curds to sit suspended in cheesecloth for a few hours to let all the whey drip away. The end result should be curds that are moist but not sticky.
The second tip for getting good rasmalai is to knead the chenna well. You want to smooth your chenna, but don't knead to the point that the fat starts to separate or you will end up with grainy rasmalai. Knead in a little flour and baking soda, form into balls, then roll out your disks and boil them in a sugar syrup flavored with cardamom. At this point, you have what's known as rasgulla. To finish your rasmalai, bathe the rasgulla in the creamy reduced milk sauce called rabri. Garnish with chopped pistachios and rose water.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.