Now I have made paneer (homemade Indian cheese) before and blogged about it. The process itself is straightforward. You boil whole milk, add an acidic agent like vinegar or lemon juice, and separate the curdled cheese that is formed.
I've typically seen or used paneer in savoury dishes like Malai Kofta, so it was interesting to see this same cheese is used in a dessert! its transformation comes about by soaking and cooking the paneer in sugar syrup, and thereafter soaking it in sweetened milk that has been reduced down to almost cream consistency.
I followed the ICC recipe to the letter and I was pleasantly surprised that everything came together so well.
- Paneer. Check.
- Sweet syrup and cooking in a pressure cooker. Check. Yes, no explosions or fragmented paneer even with the use of a pressure cooker, which I am deathly scared of.
- The only part I found a little trying was in making the "Ras" - the creamy milk which is the final abode of the sweet cheese balls. You have to boil. And boil. And boil the milk down till it reduces to half. That was pretty taxing, and I had to constantly scrape out thickened cream that was starting to get burnt at the bottom of the dish.
Well, here is where the dessert turns a little sour. I'm really impressed that everything came out so well, but I'm not so fond of the actual taste of the dish. I know, quite a let-down. I think its because I have such a sickeningly sweet tooth, so get this folks, this dessert wasn't sweet enough for me!
I know. Shoot me!
So, the next time if I make this, I'm toying with trying to sweeten the cheese itself with sugar before proceeding on. I'm sure Ras Malai purists are rolling on the floor with angst as they read this, but hey! To each his own!
Ras Malai (I halved the original ICC recipe)
For the "Malai" - Cheese Balls
1 litre full cream (whole) milk
2-3 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp AP flour
2 cups water
4 Tbsp sugar
Ras - Milk Cream
3 cups full cream (whole) milk
4 Tbsp sugar
saffron, crushed pistachios, slivered almonds, 2 curshed cardamom pods - to decorate
2. After an hour of drying, place paneer in a bowl, add flour and knead for about 2-3 minutes. The paneer should not feel wet. Roll into small balls.
3. Bring water and sugar for syrup to boil in a pressure cooker. Add malai balls. Close pressure cooker and cook for about 10 minutes or 2 whistles.
4. Remove malai balls and squeeze gently to remove excess syrup.
5. Heat milk for "Ras" in a heavy-bottomed or non-stick pan, stir occasionally until milk is reduced to half its original volume. Add sugar and cardamom.
6. Add malai balls into milk cream mixture.
7. Decorate with pistachios and almonds. Serve chil