Rasmalai (Chhena Balls in a Sweet Creamy Sauce with Cardamom and Pistachios)


7 cups whole milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cups sugar
5 whole cardamom pods
1 tsp fine semolina
3-4 drops rose essence
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1/8 tsp cardamom seeds
1 TBS shelled, unsalted pistachios

1. Make the Chhena: Heat 7 cups milk in a large pot. As soon as it comes to boil, turn off the heat and slowly pour in the lemon juice, stirring constantly with a plastic or wooden spoon. All the milk should curdle, blobs of Chhena separating from the thin, watery whey. Line a sieve or colander with a triple layer of cheesecloth. Put the sieve over a bowl. Pour the curds and whey into the sieve. A lot of the whey will drain away. Lift the cheesecloth by its four corners. Tie the curd inside into a loose bundle using a piece of string. Suspend this bundle somewhere where it can drip for 2 hours. ie on the faucet of your kitchen sink. After two hours, the chhena should have dripped some more and be cool enough to handle. Squeeze out as much liquid with your hands. Knead thoroughly. Make a ball and set it aside.

2. Add 3 cups sugar, 5 cups water, and the cardamom pods in a deep frying or sauté pan. Bring to a fast simmer over medium heat. Once the sugar is dissolved completely, turn the heat to low and let the syrup simmer gently for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

3. Flatten the ball of Chhena and add the semolina as well as the rose essence to it. Knead for 5 minutes, making sure that the semolina and rose essence are well mixed in. Now make 20 crack-free balls, rolling each with a little pressure between the palms of your two hands.

4. Bring the syrup to a simmer over medium flame. Drop the balls into the syrup. bring to a simmer again. Adjust the heat so the syrup simmers gently for 5 minutes. During this period, move the balls around and turn them occasionally, using a gentle touch. . Make sure you do not damage the balls.

5. Turn the heat up and bring the syrup to a furious simmer. The syrup should look like a mass of tiny moving bubbles, but it should never boil over. Sprinkle the balls with 2 TBS water, cover and cook them for about 10 minutes. During this period, the balls should swell up.

6. Uncover, sprinkle another 2 TBS of water over the balls, cover and cook, simmering furiously for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the balls to a large bowl. ( You no longer require the syrup and may be discarded). Combine now the heavy cream and milk and pour over the balls. Let them soak in the mixture for 3 hours.

7. Take the balls gently of the of the milk and cream mixture with a slotted spoon and put them in another bowl. Pour the milk and cream is alarge sauce or sauté pan and boil it down until you have about 2 cups left. Turn off the heat. Crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle and chop the pistachios finely. Add the crushed cardamom, the finely chopped pistachios, and 1 TBS sugar to the reduced milk and cream mixture. Pour this over the Chhena balls. Allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate for a leat two hours, and serve cold.


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