rosewater rasmalai
3 qt whole milk
3 cups buttermilk
1 cup evaporated cane sugar
1 qt water
1 tsp cardamom seeds
2 tsp rose water
1 tbsp tapioca powder
1 qt half and half
1/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
6 strands saffron
2 tsp rose water
1/2 tsp rose water
dried rose petals
unsalted pistachios
orange zest
This is one of my favorite Indian desserts. I first tasted it at San Francisco's Dosa in 2011 and couldn't stop thinking about it the whole week. Even though I always order it whenever I'm in the area, I thought it was high time I learned how to make another one of my favorites. I used techniques from Cook's Illustrated and different online posts to come up with this recipe. While it isn't particularly difficult to execute, it's categorized as a high complexity recipe since it involves multiple phases and lots of kitchen equipment. This recipe yields 18 pieces, so be ready to share this dessert with family and friends.
In a rimmed stockpot, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. It takes some time for this much liquid to come to a boil, so stir the milk occasionally and keep an eye on it to make sure that it doesn't boil over.
Line the large fine mesh strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth. Set inside of a large measuring glass or large bowl to collect the liquid that drains from the curds.
When the milk comes to a boil, whisk in the buttermilk and turn off the heat. Rest the mixture for 1 minute, then pour through the cheesecloth in two phases. For the first phase, focus on pouring out most of the water. You'll need to pour out the liquid from the measuring glass. For the second phase, focus on pouring out most of the curds (the milk solids). Drain the curds for 15 minutes.
Prepare the spice syrup. You can start this while waiting for the milk to boil. Combine the sugar, water, cardamom seeds, and rose water in a large dutch oven or saute pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Reserve and keep warm over low heat.
After the cheese has drained, put on some food-grade latex gloves. The cheese will still be pretty warm, so the gloves allow you to process the cheese while warm. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze to drain excess liquid. Transfer the cheese to a large clean work surface and knead for about 5 minutes. It will start off as a crumbly blob of cheese, but it will come together after kneading.
Sprinkle on the tapioca powder and knead for another 3-4 minutes or until hands feel greasy.
Scoop and shape the paneer into balls (we use a #30 scoop), then gently press into fluffy patties/dumplings. Add half of the paneer dumplings to the syrup and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Flip dumplings mid way. After transferring the dumplings out of the pot (see next step), repeat with the remaining dumplings. We simmer the dumplings in two batches since they double in size in this phase.
In a separate saucepan, add the half and half. Transfer the dumplings into the half and half and rest until cooled (about 15 minutes), then transfer into a resealable storage container. Repeat with the second batch of dumplings.
To the remaining half and half in the saucepan, add the sugar, salt, cardamom, saffron, and rose water. Bring to a boil then whisk over medium heat until reduced by about half.
Pour the milk syrup over the dumplings. Cover and chill in the fridge for 5-6 hours.
Before serving but after the rasmalai has cooled, taste the milk syrup and mix in some additional rosewater if it needs it.
At serving time, spoon each dumpling into the serving plate. Spoon milk syrup over each dumpling. Garnish with dried rose petals, orange zest, and pistachios.
For this recipe, we've combined the Cook's Illustrated paneer technique with ingredients from different recipes online. To coagulate the milk for the cheese, we go with CI's recommendation of buttermilk since it resulted in a more complex, tender, yet creamy cheese. This recipe could never be truly paleo with all the sugar in it, but to move it in that direction, we replace flour with tapioca powder for its chewiness.