Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy VijayaDashami - celebrating with a luscious Bengali treat

Loads of food, many friends to share and enjoy food, lots of music and masti, another Navaratri season comes to a memorable end. I feel the traditions and culture remain active and vibrant as long as it is practiced in some form, it is true things change and morph and adapt to the surroundings but the core intent remains intact. Yesterday's event reminded me so much of my Mysore days where almost every one - boys & girls, young & old sang songs and made merry infront of the doll display. There were music lovers and musicians and singing of all expertise level.
I do not have a sweet tooth, but I have a particular weakness for soft, juicy desserts that explode and melt in the mouth. Bengali sweets belong to that category for me, mostly milk based, delicious in every one of their forms from Sandesh to Rasgolla to Rasmalai, each one distinct and superlatively yummy. Have I talked to you guys about a sweet shop in the heart of buzzling Malleswaram market in Bengaluru called Asha sweets? It is a totally non descript narrow store on the main road that has been serving sweets and equally delicious savory eats. On a recent trip, DD & I along with a dear friend and her daughter tasted their badam milk (almond milk), DD swears that it was the ultimate drink she has had so far :-) but I believe it was the whole package of walking down those streets, standing infront of the crowded store, laughing carefree with a friend she made and enjoying a sip, that is what food is all about, who you share it with and how you enjoy it makes it memorable, do you agree?
When I think Bengali sweets, the one place that immediately comes to mind is the K.C.Das on St.Marks road in Bengaluru. It was the first KC Das in Bengaluru at the time while there are so many branches all around now. It was very close to my work place and we used to go there for soft, puffy, pale golden Luchis and a bowl of the rich dessert, my favorite being Ras malai. I never did really enjoy the Rasgolla as I find it too syrupy and sweet but give me a katori of chilled Rasmalai made flavorful with crunchy pieces of almond, pistachio and strands of saffron and I am a happy camper:-). And you know where this discussion is going, right? Yep, Rasmalai it is today on Sattvaa. But this is a semi home made version and I was not planning to put it on the blog yet. But the overwhelming response to this dessert from friends who tried it last evening and the repeated requests for the recipe made me put this ahead of line.

I am also completing a milestone here on the blog today, this marks my 200th recipe, discounting all those posts I do just to chit chat with you guys :-). When I started the blog, I had no bars set on any stats, but did it with an urge to share and document my way of cooking. I have had so many people come to this small space of mine, leave lovely comments, edit and suggest corrections to my posts and many have stayed back and liked my facebook page to become regular readers. Hope to keep seeing you for a long time. Here is a bowlful of sugary, creamy dessert to say thanks to all of you :-)
Last couple of days put a damper on the celebrations and preparations as we sat glued to the news updates on the Orissa cyclone Phailin, BH has a very personal connection having grown up in the area. Kudos to the administration and volunteers as they made sure that the impact of cyclone didn't directly translate into the number of lives lost, such a great stride and progress from the last similar natural disaster in the area. Things are not normal yet, people are displaced from homes but they are together and cared for. There is promise of things returning back to good times as we celebrate Vijaya Dashami today.

So here is my quick and easy recipe to make Ras Malai, with some help from the store to kick start the process. Typical store bought Ras Malais are flat in shape compared to the round Rasgollas, but the shape really is secondary and only a hang up of the mind if you ask me :-). The freshly made badam milk enhanced with additional saffron strands makes a world of difference to this. I have another 'made from scratch' recipe starting all the way with a home made paneer and badam powder which will also have the traditional flat shape but that will have to wait for another post.
What do you need to make Ras Malai?
1 tin store bought Rasgolla (I like Haldiram's brand)
2.5 cups milk (I use 2% milk)
4 Tblsp sugar (adjust to taste)
4 Tblsp MTR badam mix
6-8 strands of saffron
1 Tblsp slivered almonds or chopped pistachio
How do you make Ras Malai?
  • Open the Rasgolla tin, drain out all the juice using a sieve.
  • Run cold water over the sieve for a couple of minutes turning over and washing every one of the Rasgolla pieces thoroughly.
  • Pick a Rasgolla at a time, gently sqeeuze out all the water and any remaining juice from it and let them rest in a plate.
  • Bring milk to a boil in a wide vessel, add badam powder and sugar and mix it well so there are no lumps formed.
  • Add the saffron strands and let it come to a rolling boil. Do a taste test and adjust sugar or badam mix as you prefer. Continue to boil for another 10 minutes as milk thickens very slightly. You are not looking for a condensed milk consistency here but just for the badam mix to do its magic.
  • Turn the heat down to low.
  • Drop the Rasgollas one by one into the milk, let it continue to boil for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Switch off, let it cool to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator.
  • Roast the nuts on the stove or in microwave until they are crunchy, chop them into small bits.
  • Ras Malai soaks up the milk in a couple of hours, serve them topped with a few bits of nuts and maybe a scoop of ice cream on the side.
  • Take care not to break the Rasgolla as you squeeze out the juice from it.
  • Make sure you reduce the heat to low as you drop the Rasgollas in to the boiling milk so as not to break them.
  • Take a wide vessel so each rasgolla has enough breathing space around it and is able to swim freely in the badam milk as it absorbs the flavors.
  • Ras Malai tastes best chilled, remember to keep it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before you serve it.


NamsVeni Pothas said...

wow. let me congratulate you for the double century dhamakaa dear Sattvaa! hats off. our blog after 200 + also is soooo sweet as the Ras malai.or more than that??
bommala koluvu pictures are really wonderful. Ras malai is my favorite. Asha sweets brought me old memories.
happy Vijaya Dasami to sattvaa readers.

LG said...

Happy Vijayadashami Nagashree. I too made rasmalai for friends during navaratri. Bombe mane looks good.

Hima bindu said...

wow.. lovely decorations..Never tried making rasmalai ever.. these do look mouthwatering!


Kaveri Venkatesh said...

Congratulations on your 200th post! the golu looks beautiful and the rasamali is just delicious. I love KC Das too

Priya Suresh said...

Congrats on ur 200th post and i just loved ur golu, am missing all those funs here..

Rasmalai looks extremely luscious and highly rich,just inviting me.