While you will hardly see me baking a cake or decorating elaborate desserts, every year during Diwali I try to make a few fresh mithai (sweets) instead of buying something from the store. We do not like the taste of mithai that we get in the stores here so over the years I have taught myself to make a few favorite ones.During Diwali, the unbeatable freshness of homemade mithai and the taste keep me busy in the kitchen, which is how a time of festival and celebration should be!
Growing up, one of the mithai which we always had on Diwali was Rasmalai.These are soft and spongy chenna (coagulated milk) patties soaked in rabdi or thickened milk sauce. They melt in your mouth, with a nutty and not overly sweet flavor and are served chilled. It takes a bit of practice to get the right texture for the Rasmalai at home but once you make them a couple of times, it’s worth all the effort. I have tried to write the recipe as in-depth as possible, including little tips that I’ve learnt over the years. I hope that you get to make it for your family and guests! I shared this recipe on The Society, a south asian lifestyle magazine launched couple of months ago. You can check my guest post here. While you are there, you can check out the wonderful ideas they have for table settings as well as Diwali decorations. Printable Recipe Ingredients (Makes 12 servings) For the Chenna Patties
- 4 cups whole milk
- 3-4 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 +1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 cups water
For the Rabdi (thickened milk sauce)
- 4 cups whole milk
- 3-4 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)
- 10-12 raw cashews
- 1/2 tsp green cardamom powder
- Nuts to garnish
Method For the Chenna Patties Line a strainer/colander with double layer of cheesecloth/muslin. Set it over the bowl to catch the whey in such a way that there is gap between the bottom of strainer and the bowl. (If you do not want to collect the whey, arrange the colander directly over the kitchen sink) Bring the milk to a roaring boil.You will need to intermittently stir so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Once the milk has boiled, put off the heat. Wait for 3-5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar to the boiled milk. Immediately you will see that the milk starts to coagulate and a greenish liquid separating (this is whey). As you add more vinegar, this green liquid will turn clear, if it’s still whitish, you might need to add more vinegar. Stop adding vinegar once the liquid is clear. Pour the curdled milk over the strainer/colander lined with cheesecloth. The whey will collect in the bowl.Remove the bowl and pour a jug of cold water to wash the curdles milk (chenna) in the colander. Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth hang this over a bowl so that the liquid drains away. This may take 15-25 minutes. Stop as soon as the water stops dripping.Squeeze a little but not too much.Taking the right amount of water out from the chenna the is the most important part of this recipe.You don’t want to completely dry it out and ensure that the chenna is soft and moist.
Mix water and sugar in another wide, heavy bottomed pan and put on stove to boil. Meanwhile, place the chenna on a clean, dry work surface. Knead the chenna. You will need to push it away from yourself using the bottom of your palm, collected it with yours fingers and repeat again. This takes up quite a bit of effort, keep on kneading until the chenna turns into smooth dough (but it should not be stretchy).If you pinch a small portion,it feels like a soft paste (similar to softened cheese) and your palm feels as if you have rubbed oil over it (it actually means that the fat has evenly distributed itself) It took me about 18-20 minutes to reach that stage. Divide the dough into 10-12 equal portions. Make balls out of the portions. Lightly press to make a flat patties. Do not make too big in size since they will further puff up & almost double in size while cooking.
Add the discs to the boiling sugar & water. Keep the highest heat on your stove so that the sugar solution is roaring boiling.Cover the lid and let cook for 3-5 minutes. The patties will start puffing up.In between, open the lid and if you feel that the sugar solution is thickening, add 1/4 to 1/3 cup or so of water. It is very important to not let the sugar solution turn into a syrup else the patties will come out hard and not spongy. Take out the patties from the sugar solution and let cool a bit, squeeze them lightly,and set aside.
For the Flavored Milk/Rabdi (You can start cooking this while you are making the chenna patties) In a large pot, bring the milk to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 25-35 minutes on medium heat, stirring continuously till the milk reduces to half its volume. Meanwhile crush the cashews to a coarse powder. When the milk has reduced, add the sugar, cardamon and cashew powder to the milk. Let simmer for 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Immediately add the chenna patties to the warm milk.Cover and let sit.Once the rasmalai has cooled completely, refrigerate it for 3-4 hours. Garnish with sliced almonds and pistachios(or any nuts of choice) Serve Chilled. Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!