As newly weds, when we were expecting M's family from Detroit for dinner, I had to pull out a show-stopper from my recipe collection. I made the queen of desserts, Ras Malai. Filled dainty silver bowls with soft paneer discs soaking in delicious golden yellow cool ras, garnished with saffron. It was a huge hit!
Granted it is a bit daunting, but trust me, make it once and you feel like 'Master chef'.
For Malai/paneer dumplings
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/4 cup white vinegar
Bowl of ice cubes
2 tbsp powdered sugar
Syrup to cook the dumplings
6 cups of water
1 cup of sugar
3 cups of whole milk
1 can of unsweetened evaporated milk
2 tbsp sugar
crushed roasted nuts
Rose Water ( optional)
In pot # 1 , add 6 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar to boil.
In pot#2, warm milk, whisk in evaporated milk, saffron, sugar and crushed nuts. You can use badam feast or Everest milk masala, if you'd like. Be careful with the sugar amount, in that case. Let the Ras cool down, add a splash of rose water.
In another non stick pot# 3, bring the 1/2 gallon milk to boil. When the milk starts to boil, slowly add vinegar in small amounts, keep stirring. When the curd separates completely, shut the heat and pour all the ice cubes in the vessel. This will immediately stop the cooking process and the paneer will be super soft. Drain whey using cheese cloth. You can find cheese cloth in the cleaning section of Publix ( go figure!). Carefully make a small bundle of the cheese cloth with the paneer and hold it under cold tap water. This will again stop the cooking process and wash out the vinegar. Do not rush through this step. Take your time and give the paneer a thorough cold water rinse. Squeeze the bundle to remove excess water and you will see crumbly super soft creamy paneer. Sample some ( hehehe) to make sure that it does not have a tart taste.
Remove as much water as you can, add powdered sugar to the paneer crumbles in a plate, knead the two together to give a smooth dough like texture. This may take 10-15 minutes. Patience my dear Watson!
Break a piece of the paneer dough and roll it into a small disc. When you boil these dumplings in the sugar syrup, it will double in size, so portion it well. The sugar syrup should be boiling before you add the dumplings. Cover and let the dumplings cook in the sugar syrup for about 6-8 minutes. Carefully, remove and cool.
Squeeze out excess syrup from the paneer dumplings before you add to the Ras. Refrigerate overnight for super duper taste.