Rasmalai is a gorgeous Indian dessert which is made from balls of curds (paneer) which are soaked in a delicious sugar syrup enhanced by cardamon, saffron, pistachios and almonds. BUT and this is a bit BUT, it’s a huge faff to make. A tasty substitute can be achieved using ricotta.
You can find a few ricotta rasmalai recipes online but where’s the fun in that? I completely ignored those and invented my own. The biggest challenge is that ricotta is made from whey which is the liquid discarded when making paneer. But the clever cheese makers out there have found a way to take the whey and make a nice cheese/yoghurt type concoction.
This is an experiment and I hope to perfect it in future but as a first attempt it was bloody tasty so I urge you to try it. The whole thing took less than an hour to make. I hope you enjoy it and if you can suggest improvements, then please don’t be shy, speak UP!
- 250g ricotta cheese
- 50g caster sugar (could be reduced to 40g if you are watching your waist as it was a bit sweet)
- 6 green cardamom pods
- 1/2 pint full fat cow’s milk (the ordinary stuff you put in your tea)
- 1 tbs pistachios
- 4 or 5 strands saffron
- 7 0r 8 almonds
- Ricotta cheese: the normal rasmalai has a spongy consistency. To emulate that, I took the ricotta cheese and smoothed it out in a bowl. Stir in the caster sugar and mix well.
- Cardamom: Dry heat (i.e. without oil) the cardomom seeds in a frying pan or tawa for a few minutes…the kitchen will be filled with this delicious aroma. Then grind the seeds in a pestle and mortar. I was lazy and just picked out the pod cover afterwards (it’s so light you can blow it out but you could lose some of the seeds too). You may prefer to open the pods out and just takes the seeds out for grinding. Mix the ground seeds in with the ricotta and sugar.
- Pour the mixture into either a flat baking tray (has to be quite small) or into a muffin pan. Only fill to have the height as they rise in the oven
- Cook in the oven at 150 degrees for about 40 minutes until the mixture sets. Watch out for the mixture burning. Remove and let these cool.
- Blanch the almonds by soaking them in hot water for 20 minutes. Then remove the skin and chop the almonds into slivers. Set aside.
- Crush the pistachios and set aside.
- In a heavy non stick pan, heat the milk over a medium heat. Add the pistachios and saffron. This is going to be the liquid that the ricotta will soak in. In normal rasmalai a sugar syrup is used which absorbs milk from the paneer and goes milky. To emulate the same effect I reduced milk down so that it thickened by boiling it and stirring continuously for about 15 minutes. It’s important to keep stirring the milk to prevent it sticking to the pan and burning.
- Once it’s reduced, pour over the set cheese and garnish with the almond slivers.
- Chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.