Storified by Arya McLean· Tue, Apr 16 2013 17:46:18
Ras malai is a very popular Indian and Bengali dessert that consists of cottage cheese soaked in thickened and sweetened milk and flavored with cardamom. The dessert can be garnished with saffron, dried fruits and nuts like Pistachios or almonds and best served chilled. In this gourmet cooking recipe, fresh cheese is made with full cream milk curdled with lemon juice and then formed into balls. The cheese balls are soaked in a sweetened milk preparation and the whole is garnished with the fruits and nuts.
Ras malai is often prepared and served during Indian weddings and other special occasions like birthdays and national festivities. This rich and delicious treat can be easily made at home and makes a wonderful treat after a spicy Indian course or meal. In India, fresh homemade cheese prepared simply with milk and an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar is called paneer, also known as “chana” or “cheena” in India.
Similar to the Indian dessert rasgullas, rasmalai consists of paneer balls but instead of soaking the cheese in a sugar syrup, it is soaked in a sweet flavored milk. This is a simple enough dessert dish that does not require advanced cooking skills to attempt. It is refreshing and delicious and is loved by adults and children alike. Ras Malai is also available in canned or packaged form, premade and ready to eat but it is still best to make it at home. Freshly made cottage cheese is especially lovely tasting when it is homemade.
Ras malai, also spelled and called “rosh malai,” originates from Eastern India, particularly in Orissa or West Bengal, but is a popular treat all throughout the Indian subcontinent and South Asia. The term ras malai comes from two Hindi words “ras,” meaning juice or juicy, and “malai,” which means cream.