A delightful dessert usually sold chilled in little matkis (clay pots) at halwai shops in north india. It is different from rasmalai though there are few similarities. Rasmalai is chenna patties served with thickened (but still runny) milk, in this sweet, the milk is almost rabri like consistency. Quite a bit of layers of flavors and textures going on in here- spongy petite (grape sized) roundels of chenna in a lacy rabri base. You can make a traditional rabri, I add little custard powder to milk for smoothness and flavor. There’s desiccated coconut in the custard along with plump golden raisins, sliced nuts and cherries. Takes time to put together but on festivals I like pull out all plugs and spend time in the kitchen .
To color chenna balls naturally pink, I add roohafza (rose syrup) to the sugar syrup while boiling. The chenna balls can be made ahead and your can make custard next day and assemble it all together. We are in the middle of a heatwave and I wanted to make a chilled dessert for Rakhi. Their excitement about mithai will never be similar to mine, however the girls were elated to see “pink balls” Rakhi wishes to those celebrating 🙂
Ingredients (Serves 4)
For Chenna Balls (Makes 16-20 grape size balls)
- 2 cups full fat milk
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 cups water
- 3 tbsp roohafza (rose syrup)
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 1 -2 tbsp rosewater
For the Rabri
- 2 cups full fat milk
- 1.5 tbsp vanilla custard powder mixed in 2 tbsp cold milk
- 1/3 cup sugar (or to taste)
- 5 tbsp desiccated coconut, lightly roasted
- 2 tbsp heavy cream (optional)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla essence
- 1/4 cup raisins
- Marachino Cherries – as much as you want
- Sliced nuts- as much as you want
- Edible gold or silver film(varq)
- Crushed rose petals
For the chenna balls
Set milk to a boil in a heavy pot and keep on stirring it.Once the milk is boiling, switch off the flame and immediately add vinegar to it. Stir gently 2-3 times. You will see that the milk starts curdling. Let the curds form, don’t stir a lot. Once you see that all the milk has curdled and a greenish whey has separated, strain the curdled milk through a muslin/cheese cloth. Pour some cold water to remove the traces of vinegar and to cool it down. Tie the cheesecloth and hang it for about 20-25 minutes to remove some liquid from the chenna.
Transfer the chenna to a wide dish and using the base of your palm, knead the chenna for around 5 minutes to a smooth grain free dough. Pinch small grape size portions and make smooth round balls. Set aside, covered.
In a wide pot, transfer the sugar and water for the syrup, add the cardamom pods and bring it to a rolling boil. Add the rose syrup, let boil again and slowly add the chenna balls in there. Dont lower the heat, let cook for 10-12 mins. Meanwhile transfer a little (about 1/2 cup) sugar syrup to a bowl of ice. Immediately add cooked chenna balls to ice bath and let cool off for 5-8 mins. Mix rose water with the remaining syrup in the pot and cool down the syrup. Transfer the cooled chenna balls and syrup to a container together and let soak for 6-8 hours. Discard the syrup in ice bath.
For the Rabri custard
In a heavy pot, add the full fat milk, bring it to boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 mins. Add sugar and mix well. Then slowly add the custard powder mixed with cold milk while continuously mixing the milk in the pot with the other hand. Also add the heavy cream(if using)
Cook for 5-7 minutes, we don’t want the milk to get very thick. Switch off the stove. Mix in the coconut along with the vanilla and raisins. Chill the custard completely for 3-5 hours in the fridge.
Transfer the custard to a wide dish. Squeeeze the syrup from the chenna balls and add it to custard. Add drained cherries and nuts. Add rose crushed rose petals and some edible gold film to decorate. Serve chilled.
You can form individual servings as well following the same steps.