Our old neighbour came to visit on a sunny weekend and together we made some rasgulla, a delicious Indian milk sweet. They are quite similar to ras malai but come in a sugar syrup rather than cream. As I suspected, they required some skill, best shared by an experienced rasgulla maker. Here I have tried my best to share that wisdom with you. This recipe makes about 15 rasgullas.
1 litre full fat milk
250g yoghurt, full or low fat OR 3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 – 2 teaspoons of rose water
- Starting by making a batch of curd with 1 litre milk. Bring it to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to stop it sticking. Keep a close eye on it and when it is about to boil over, take it off the heat and add the lemon juice or yoghurt to curdle it. Strain the curds from the whey – line a colander or sieve with a cheesecloth (a clean thin cotton scarf will do) and place over a large bowl. Carefully pour the mixture in, allowing the whey to flow into the bowl below. I usually do all of this in the sink. (You can keep the whey and use it to cook rice in, use in pastry or put in bread dough. It might work quite well in Irish soda bread as it is acidic). Gather the edges of the cloth together and lift up your clothful of cheese, placing it on a flat surface to cool a little. (Unlike paneer, the fresh cheese is not pressed and is used in its soft form, known as chenna.)
2. Blitz the curd in a food processor or blender jug for 3-5 minutes, allowing it to become really smooth. We had a go at passing it through a potato ricer but it had to be done about 6 times and was quite laborious. Next, add the sugar and rose water to a litre of water and bring to a rolling boil in a 2 litre lidded saucepan.
3. While the syrup boils, roll the sweets. I was surprised that the chenna behaved quite unlike any other substance I’ve ever rolled into balls. Break off a walnut sized piece of chenna and roughly press it between your horizontal palms, almost smooshing it. Continue to apply pressure and start making a horizontal circular motion with your palms – you will feel the curd start to form a ball. Keep rolling until you have a neat sphere with a smooth surface – try to avoid having any cracks.
4. Keep an eye on your syrup as you roll the sweets. You don’t want it to boil away! Once it has reached a rolling boil, decant half the syrup into a large jug or Kilner jar. Place half of the sweets into the pan of boiling syrup – you don’t want to overcrow the pan as the rasgulla need room to expand. Put the lid on and cook for ten minutes. You should be able to see them slowly expand as they cook. After ten minutes, remove the rasgulla from the pan with a slotted spoon and gently place into the jar. Repeat the process for the rest of the sweets. These can be served soon after cooking but will keep in the fridge in their syrup for a few days. The ideal rasgulla should squeak when you bite into it!
5. You need a generous amount of syrup to cook the sweets in. If the syrup starts to evaporate, you can some boiling water to the pan. You will be left with a thickish rose scented syrup. You can use it to make a lassi, add to sparkling water as a cordial-type drink or as the drizzle for this fabulous rose scented cake. Once the rasgulla had been eaten, I combined the leftover cooking syrup with the juice the sweets had been in and made both cake and lassi.