On my mind and in my fridge today is: Rasmalai. Rasmalai is a delicious Bengali dessert, made with discs of milk solids dipped in a sweetened milk syrup, and garnished with nuts. Yummm!! It is a very popular dessert in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. And perfect for Eid, and dinner parties.
Living away from home, you don’t always have access to your favorite childhood cultural delicacies. For me, Rasmalai, Gajar ka halwa or Shahi Tukrey are all love letters from home, that I want to open, again and again. And when the craving hits….oh man. But, the lazy ass that I sit on, makes me find a shortcut recipe for all those cravings. But Exhibit A – This Rasamali recipe!
To make this shortcut happen, I’ll admit I had to go through a painstakingly long journey, with tears, burst rasmalais, and failed experiments. Some feedback from family and my wonderful family over at IG, I can finally say I have a recipe that is as fool-proof as it gets.
Rasmalai is known by various names in South Asia, including rossomalai, or rasa malei. The traditional Rasmalai involves making cottage cheese (paneer) from scratch, shaping it into flattened discs, and dipping it in sweetened milk syrup, seasoned with spices like cardamom and saffron.
This version of Rasmalai that I use is a popular shortcut method, where you use milk powder mixture instead of making cottage cheese for the milk balls. It’s quicker, easier, and ready in 30 mins! That literally checks all my boxes: something quick, fancy, and yum!
It is one of the “quicker” South Asian desserts and if you follow the tips in this post, no one will EVER believe your Rasmalais are homemade. I will also troubleshoot the common problems that you face when making rasmalai with milkpowder.
Notes on Ingredients
You do require a couple of special ingredients that aren’t readily available in the pantry. But, you’ll find most of these in any South Asian grocery store.
- Milk Powder – You need full-fat milk for for this recipe. It is crucial! Skim milked powder or “less fat” powders will not work and your milk balls will likely burst. (ask me how I know) I’ve used Nido, Almarai. And some of you on IG have sent in your remakes with other brands like Olpers, Deep and Carnation with amazing results.
- Sweet milk Syrup – The syrup needs milk, sugar, and green cardamom powder. As a substitute, you can use whole green cardamom pods. You can also add saffron strands if you are feeling fancy.
- All-purpose flour – Called “maida” in Urdu, you only need a teaspoon of this. It helps with binding the milk balls together.
- Ghee – Ghee is clarified butter, and is found in most South Asian stores. You can buy a small tin of ghee, or make ghee at home with butter using my friend Henna’s Homemade Ghee recipe. Ghee is solid when cold and liquid when warm. You need ghee at room temperature where it is semi-solid.
- Egg – You need a large cold egg. It is important you use refrigerated egg for this recipe, this hack will help you with crack-free milk discs. (Yes, this is different from most baking recipes which require room-temperature eggs.)
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities
Step By Step Instructions
Rasmalai has two components. One is the milk powder discs and the other one is the sweet milk syrup. The common thing to do is to put the syrup on the stove to cook, and in the meantime prepare the milk discs.
- Cooking the sweet milk syrup
- Making the milk ball discs
- Cooking the milk ball discs in the syrup.
STEP 1 – Boil milk, sugar and cardamom powder in a wide base pot at low heat and let it simmer on the side.
STEP 2 – In a bowl, add dry ingredients to make the milk balls and mix.
STEP 3 – Make a well or a ditch in the center of the dry mixture
STEP 4 – Add an egg and ghee to the ditch and beat.
STEP 5 – Use the palm of your hands to mix the ingredients and knead them just long enough until everything is combined well. The dough will be sticky and shiny.
STEP 6 – Use a teaspoon to portion out the milk discs.
STEP 7 – Place the roughly portioned milk balls onto a plate
STEP 8 – Wash your hands and completely dry them. Now roll out the portions into flat discs in the palm of your hand.
STEP 9 – Make discs of all the dough portions. The discs should be smooth, shiny, and crack-free. (see tips)
STEP 10 – Drop the milk balls gently into the simmering milk.
STEP 11 – Your milk balls will initially sink and then rise on top of the milk
STEP 12 – Cover the ras malai with a lid and let it cook at low flame for 15 mins. Checking in at 5 mins intervals.
PROTIP: Do not stir the milk with a spoon after you’ve added your rasmalai discs. Your spoon should only enter the pot once you are ready to take the rasmalais out.
STEP 13 – Once you see the milk balls have expanded and turned whitish in color, cover the lid again and let it simmer at medium flame for another 5 mins.
STEP 14 – Turn off the heat and let the ras malai cool down.
Gently transfer the rasmalais onto the serving dish. Garnish with sliced pistachios and almonds. Refrigerate for about 6 to 8 hours and serve cold.
Tips for Perfect Rasmalai Discs
Making the sweet milk syrup is a straightforward beginner level task, so that is never the issue anyone runs into. But yes, making and shaping the rasmalai milk discs does require a couple of pointers. The goal is to make smooth crack free milk discs to create as perfect a rasmalai as possible.
- MOISTURE CONTROL
The bowl you make your dough in should be completely dry and moisture-free. Remember to dry your hands completely before kneading or shaping the discs.
- QUALITY INGREDIENTS
Use good quality full fat milk powder and good quality baking powder (more often than not, expired products are the culprit of bad results). I say it again here to emphasize, you need FULL FAT milk powder for both, Rasmalais and Gulabjamuns.
- SIFT THE DRY INGREDIENTS
Sifting the dry ingredients avoids any clumps or impurities from passing through. and gives you more uniform rasmalai
This recipe requires the rasmalai dough to be cold. To achieve this, once you mix all your dry ingredients in a bowl, keep the bowl in the freezer for 5 mins. And use refrigerated egg as well. This will give you a sticky dough which is crack free when shaped into discs.
- A WIDE BOWL
This will help you mix the dough ingredients, and make it easier for you to knead the dough with your palms.
- MILK SYRUP TEMPERATURE
And lastly, make sure your sweet milk syrup is simmering at low flame when you add your rasmalai discs. Adding rasmalai to very hot milk will make the eggs in the dough curdle and break your rasmalais.
Unfortunately, since this is a shortcut recipe, all ingredients used are required in exact quantities for the perfect rasmalai. You can however, ADD saffron strands to your milk syrup if you’d like.
The fresh rasmalais once refrigerated, can last upto a week in the fridge. Just make sure to keep it in an airtight container.
If you follow all the tips mentioned above, your dough should not crack. But if it still does, then crack another egg, beat it and add 1 teaspoon at a time and knead the dough. Your dough should revive instantly.
This happens if your milk was too hot, which makes the egg in the dough curdle and break the rasmalais.
Let it sit for 3 mins and it will become workable.
Do you have any questions? I’m happy to help! And of course, If you try this recipe, I’d loveeeee to see it or simply hear about it! Hit me up in the comment section below and I’ll get back to asap! Happy Cooking!
For the Milk Balls
- 3/4 cup good quality milk powder I used Nido
- 1 tbsp ghee clarified butter
- 1 tsp Maida or White flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 large egg cold
For the Millk mixture (ras)
- 1 Litre full fat milk
- 1/2 tsp elaichi powder green cardamom powder
- 1 cup sugar
- Sliced almonds and pistachios for garnish
- In a wide saucepan (pateeli), add milk, sugar and cardamom powder. Keep it on low heat and allow to simmer. Cover it with a lid, and let it simmer on the side.
- In a bowl, add milk powder, baking powder and white flour. Use a spoon and mix well. Put the bowl in the freezer for 5 mins.
- Take the bowl out, and make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Now add ghee and a cold egg. Beat the egg with a fork.
- Use the palm of your hands to knead the dry ingredients into the egg and form a dough. Your dough will be sticky and thats fine.
- Use a teaspoon to roughly portion the dough into 1 teaspoon servings on a plate.
- Now use the palm of your hands to roll the dough into discs.
- Drop the discs in the simmering milk at low heat and cover the pan with the lid. Let the rasmalai cook for about 15 mins.
- After 15 mins your rasmalai balls would have doubled in size. Increase the heat to medium and cook for another 5 mins.
- Turn off the heat and let the rasmalai sit in the pot till it comes down to room temperature.
- Gently transfer the rasmalai onto the serving dish and chill it in the fridge.
- Garnish with sliced almonds and pistachios. Serve cold
- The bowl you make your dough in should be completely dry and moisture-free. Remember to dry your hands completely before kneading or shaping the discs.
- Use good quality full-fat milk powder and good quality baking powder (more often than not, expired products are the culprit of bad results).
- Sifting the dry ingredients prevents any clumps or impurities from passing through.
- This recipe requires the rasmalai dough to be cold. To achieve this, once you mix all your dry ingredients in a bowl, keep the bowl in the freezer for 5 mins. And use refrigerated egg as well. This will give you a sticky dough that is crack-free when shaped into discs.
- Use a wide bowl to mix and knead the rasmalai discs
- Use a wide base pot to cook the rasmalais to avoid crowding
- And lastly, make sure your sweet milk syrup is simmering at low flame when you add your rasmalai discs. Adding rasmalai to very hot milk will make the eggs in the dough curdle and break your rasmalais.