Rasmalai is definitely my favourite Indian dessert. In its authentic form it is made from spongy balls of paneer that have been cooked and soaked in sugar syrup, then placed into a fragrant, milky liquor. I have never made ‘proper’ rasmalai at home, as cooking the balls is an art form… and one I haven’t taken the time to master. So when a Twitter follower, Mandeep Obhi, insisted it was really easy to cheat with ricotta, I had to give it a try. She was right. This is super-easy and really hits the spot. I have shortened the cooking time by using a small can of evaporated milk, but, if you prefer to use only whole milk, add another 400 ml milk to the quantity below and reduce the volume of the milk liquor to about 500 ml before chilling.
Make the milk liquor first. Bring the whole milk and ground cardamom to the boil in a very wide saucepan and reduce to just under half its quantity. If you do this over a medium-high heat, it should take around 20 minutes. Stir the milk every two or three minutes, making sure you scrape the base of the pan so the milk does not stick and burn. Any skin that forms on the surface should be stirred back in.
Add the sugar, evaporated milk and saffron and return to the boil. Simmer for two or three minutes, then take off the heat and stir in 40 g of the ricotta. Cool, then chill in the fridge. (This can be done the day before serving.)
To make the ricotta balls, preheat the oven to 170°C. Mix the remaining 360 g of ricotta with the icing sugar and spoon it into 12 mini muffin moulds. Bake for 20–40 minutes (fresh ricotta contains less water and cooks more quickly; long-life ricotta will take longer), or until the balls are springy when lightly pressed and can easily be removed from the tin. Remove from the oven. Cool, then place in the chilled milk liquor, cover and leave in the fridge for up to two days.
Serve the ricotta balls with some of their milky liquor, sprinkling with the pistachios to serve.
Recipe from ‘Anjum’s Quick and Easy Indian’ by Anjum Anand RRP$39.95 is published by Quadrille and available now where all good books are sold.