Though South Asian desserts aren’t always as well known as our curries and savoury foods, rasmalai, (or roshmalai as many of us Bangladeshis call it) is probably one of the most popular sweets both in South Asia and beyond. It is a milk based dessert, with soft dumplings served in a slightly thickened milk sauce.
For us Bangladeshis, it is a staple dessert both to serve to guests on special occasions and to take for your host when you are invited to their home. Going to someone’s house for the first time? Take some rasmalai. Congratulating a family on the birth of a new child? Take some rasmalai. Going to meet your potential in laws? Yep, you guessed it. Take some rasmalai.
Rasmalai is my favourite Asian dessert. As it is such a traditional dish that we often have for big events such as Eid, there is a certain kind of nostalgia associated with it for me as well. I don’t profess to have the biggest sweet tooth in the world but the milky sweetness of rasmalai is light and delicate. The milk dumplings are soft and fluffy, and are contrasted with the slight crunch of the pistachio.
Despite the popularity of this dish, it is common practice these days to buy your rasmalai. These days, you can find small boxes of this sweet by brands such as Ambala and Royal in your local supermarket and dedicated sweet or mithai shops continue to sell it by the kilo in large bucket containers. Yet, as we all know, shop bought items don’t always have the same charm or love that is found in homemade cooking. And on top of all that, homemade rasmalai just tastes so much better than the shop bought variety.
This recipe was taken from the popular Fauzia’s Kitchen Fun. The recipe uses milk powder for the little dumplings instead of the traditional paneer cheese which is great as it is a lot quicker and convenient to make. It is also uses evaporated milk to make the milk ras or sauce. I have seen other recipes call for condensed milk but I often find condensed milk far too sweet so I think evaporated milk is a better choice.
There is a pinch of ground cardamom powder in the actual dough. If you don’t have ground cardamom at home, grind up the seeds of one green cardamom and add a pinch. It smells so much more fresh too.
Lastly, when shaping the milk dough mixture into your dumplings, make sure you make them quite small. Once you put them in the milk to soak up the sauce, they grow in size about 3 or 4 times their original size You should be able to get at least 12-15 with this recipe, don’t worry if they seem tiny as they grow a lot!
This is such a quick and easy dessert that involves no baking and it’s a really great way of impressing guests.
1) Sift milk powder, flour, baking powder and cardamom powder into a bowl. Add oil and rub it in with fingertips. Beat one egg and add it to the mixture. Mix gently until it all comes together into a soft and sticky mixture. Leave to rest for a minute (the dough will become a little firm). Then divide and shape the mixture into small balls and then gently flatten them between the palms of your hands into disc shapes. Leave them to sit on the side while you make the milk sauce.
2) Select a wide pan for the milk sauce to allow space for the milk dumplings to expand. Add the milk, evaporated milk, sugar and cardamom to pan. Allow to simmer for about 15-20 minutes on a medium heat. When it comes to a boil, lower the heat slightly to allow the mixture to carry on simmering.
3) Now add your milk dumplings to the milk sauce. Try to add them all together as fast as you can to allow them all to cook through equally. Cover and allow to simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Uncover the pot to gently flip over the milk dumplings. You should notice that they have already grown in size. Cover again and allow the other side to cook on a gently simmer for a further 5-10 minutes.
4) Check the rasmalai is cooked through by removing one from the milk sauce and breaking or cutting it in half. It should be soft and spongey. Remove the rasmali from the heat and allow to cool down completely.
Refrigerate the dish for a few hours to serve the rasmalai as a cold dessert. However, my mother likes to warm the rasmali up on the stove or in the microwave when she eats it so it tastes just as good warm.
When serving, garnish the rasmalai with pistachio nuts and any other nuts or dried fruit of your choice.
Store the rasmalai in the fridge where it should keep for 3-5 days.