Quick & Easy Ras Malai – Two Ways

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After I posted about our ras malai taste off we had for Eid this past summer. I had a few requests to share the ras malai recipes we used. So finally I got it together and here they are! Not one, but two ways to make ras malai!

What is Ras Malai?

Ras malai is a sweet milk based dessert. Essentially it is sweet dumplings made out of milk or cheese soaked in more milk sweetened with sugar and with flavours like elaichi (cardamom) and saffron. It is a very indulgent dessert and one of my faves!

Traditional – Nido Based Ras Malai

There are two ways to make ras malai. The first is the traditional way that I grew up eating. It is made using powdered milk. The recipe below is my moms way to make ras malai. I’d say this one is of moderate difficulty as the dough can be a bit finicky and get too dry if you take too long to roll your ras malai balls, or if you don’t knead it enough to make your dough balls super smooth. But the flavour of these is by far my favourite.

The dumplings or malai are soft and spongy and almost melt in your mouth. Coupled with the sweet saffron ras (milk) it is very comforting!

Quick & Easy – Ricotta Based Ras Malai

The other, and I would say much easier, and more fool proof way to make ras malai is to use ricotta cheese instead of powdered milk. I believe this one was adapted for those of us living in north america as it used to be much easier for us to find ricotta cheese than it is for us to find powdered milk. Although now, both are readily available, this method is much easier and perfect for a beginner!

The ricotta based ras malai is pretty fool proof since all you need to do to make the malai is mix the ricotta with some sugar and bake till it becomes firm. That forms your malai balls and then you add those to the sweet saffron ras and you are done!

You can get the round shape of the malai by using a mini cupcake tin to bake the malai in individual rounds. Or if you want to make it even easier, just use a shallow rectangular or square baking dish. Grease it well and then spread out the ricotta sugar mixture in one even layer on the pan about 1 inch thick. Bake that until firm then cut into cubes before adding to the ras. It is ras malai cubes!

Both versions are below. Which one would you prefer?

Traditional Ras Malai (with Nido)

Sweet creamy milk dumplings in a saffron milk made the traditional way, using powdered milk (Nido).
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian, pakistani
Keyword: dessert, Vegetarian

Ingredients

For the Malai (Milk Dumplings)

  • 2 cups powdered milk (I like to use Nido brand)
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder

For the Ras (Sweet Milk)

  • pinch saffron
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 1 can evaporated milk (354 ml about 1.5 cups)
  • 1.5 cup whole milk
  • 2-3 whole cardamom pod (elaichi) (or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder)
  • 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar (add more for a sweeter ras)
  • crushed nuts for garnish (I like almonds or pistachios)

Instructions

Make the Ras

  • In a small bowl add the saffron and 3 tbsp boiling water to allow the saffron to bloom and release its flavour. Set aside and start to prepare the rest of the ingredients for the ras.
  • In a large saucepan with a lid, mix all the remaining ras ingredients together. Add the saffron water and bring to a boil on medium heat. Stirring occasionally. You can start on the malai while your ras heats up. Just keep an eye on it and make sure to bring it down to a simmer once it has started boiling.

Make the Malai

  • While your ras is heating up start on your malai – you definitely want to do the ras first, these malai balls do not keep well, so you want the ras ready and simmering once you start rolling the malai balls, so you can drop them in straight away!
  • In a large bowl, mix together all the malai ingredients. Mix with your hands until the mixture comes together into a ball. Turn out on to a clean counter and start kneading until it forms a smooth ball. It will take a few minutes of good kneading to get it there.
  • Start to form large marble sized balls. Keep in mind whatever size you make your balls, they will double in size once cooked.
  • You want to be quick about rolling the malai balls, don't let the malai balls sit out for too long or they will get too dry.
  • Once all the balls are rolled, carefully drop them into the ras and cover. Allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes. Resist the urge to peak. The steam will help cook the balls all the way through.
  • After 15 minutes, remove the lid and taste test one ras malai to see if it has cooked all the way through. If you push down on it with a spoon it should not be hard to cut through and the centre should be soft, not firm. Test for sweetness (remember it will taste less sweet once chilled). If the balls are still firm on the inside cook with the lid on for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Once done, turn off the heat and transfer to your serving bowl. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Serve cold with more crushed nuts and a sprinkle of saffron. Enjoy!

Quick & Easy Ras Malai (with Ricotta)

A quick and easy version of ras malai – a sweet dumpling served in a sweet saffron milk sauce.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian, pakistani
Keyword: dessert, Vegetarian

Ingredients

For the Malai (Dumplings)

  • 1 package ricotta cheese 450ml
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • oil for greasing the pan

For the Ras (Sweet Saffron Milk)

  • pinch saffron
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • 1 can evaporated milk 354 ml about 1.5 cups
  • 1.5 cup whole milk
  • 2-3 whole cardamom pod elaichi (or 1/2 tsp cardamom powder)
  • 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar add more for a sweeter ras
  • crushed nuts for garnish I like almonds or pistachios

Instructions

Make the Malai

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta and sugar. Mix well to combine.
  • Grease a mini-cupcake baking sheet for small ras malai balls (or use a standard cupcake baking sheet for larger flat ras malai shape).
  • Spoon about 1-2 tsbp of the ricotta mixture into each mini-cupcake tin. I get a total of about 12-18 mini malai balls this way.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes until firm and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. While it bakes, you can start on your ras.
  • Remove from the baking sheet onto a plate, and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before adding to the ras.

Make the Ras

  • While the malai is cooking in the oven, start on the ras. In a small bowl add the pinch of saffron and 3 tbsp boiling water to allow the saffron to bloom and release its flavour. Set aside and start to prepare the rest of the ingredients for the ras.
  • In a large saucepan with a lid, mix all the remaining ras ingredients together. Add the saffron water and bring to a boil on medium heat. Stirring occasionally. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes to thicken slightly. Turn off the heat and allow to come to room temperature while the malai finishes cooking in the oven.
  • Once the malai is out of the oven, and has had 10 minutes to cool, place the malai in your serving dish and pour the room temperature ras overtop. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Serve immediately or allow to chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours. Serve cold with more crushed nuts and a sprinkle of saffron. Enjoy!
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