Thandai Rasmalai ( Holi Special Recipe )
Holi, the Hindu festival which falls in the month of March, is first and foremost an announcement of the harbinger of spring. While there are many myths surrounding this festival, most of us believe it to be a show of love between Lord Krishna and his consort Radha. No wonder, this carnival of colors allows for the free mixing on both genders. A fact that has been re-iterated by Bollywood, time and again.
One of the most special drinks associated with this festival is the 'Thandai', a refreshing concoction of rose petals, various nuts and spices steeped in milk. While it is guaranteed to perk up sagging spirits after hours of playing in the sun, for those looking for a different kind of high, a bit of 'bhaang' or cannabis can do the trick. But what does not come as a surprise is that most of the ingredients in it are loaded with aphrodisiac properties. Trust the humans to elevate (and of course mask) the mating ritual ( uhh!! We are civilized chimps, aren't we ?) to a summit hitherto unexplored by other species.
But moving on from one basic instinct to another, let us explore the possibilities of consuming this 'passion enhancer' magic potion in other ways. Not a tough call given that milk is the major component of this drink. So, it can be easily used in any milk based dessert. Here I have chosen it to be the fluid component of a very refreshing 'Rasmalai'. Thinner than it's regular counterpart but infused with the mellow notes of rose, fennel, pepper, cardamom, saffron and other nuts, this one is a winner. Serve it to your guests on Holi and watch the pics go viral.
Read on for the recipe -
Preparation Time - 1 hour
For the Thandai -
- 1 litre whole milk ( use skimmed if you want to reduce calories )
- 16-18 nos almonds
- 10-12 nos cashews
- 7-8 pistachios
- 1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds (khuskhus)
- 1 1/2 tbsp watermelon seeds (magaj)
- 1 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 4-5 green cardamons
- 1 tsp peppercorns ( reduce by half for kids )
- a few strands of saffron
- 1 tbsp rose water/essence (use fresh petals if you find some, the dark pink ones are best)
- 1 cup sugar
For the rasmalai -
- 1 litres whole milk
- 3-4 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tsp maida /all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
Dry roast the peppercorns, fennel and cardamom till it gives off a fragrance.
Cooking - Bring the milk to boil in a thick bottomed vessel. Let it simmer till it reduces to 2/3rd of the original volume and then switch off flame.
Add the sugar and saffron strands to the still hot milk. Mix gently so that the sugar dissolves.Allow to cool.
Transfer the roasted spices to a grinder and buzz till they are powdered. Add all the soaked nuts and grind everything till you get a very fine paste. Add a little water to thin the consistency if it is getting too difficult to grind. Add this paste along with rose essence to the milk and allow to stand for 1 hour.
Use a cloth to strain and transfer the milk into another vessel (an earthen pot would be ideal but do not worry if you cant find one).
For the Rasmalai Balls :
Dilute the vinegar with equal amount of water and add to the milk. This should be sufficient to separate the paneer from the green colored water. However if the water still looks milky, add some some water-vinegar mix. Once all the paneer is separated, add a few ice cubes and 2-3 cup water to the saucepan. This prevents the paneer from cooking further.
Strain all the paneer and wash it under running water to remove any traces of vinegar. Gather it in a piece of cheesecloth/muslin and hang for 20-30 mins to remove excess water.
Transfer to a plate. Knead it with the heel of your palms for 10 mins to get a uniform mixture. Add the maida at this stage and knead for another 5-6 mins.
Divide into 25-30 lumps and shape each into a smooth ball with no visible cracks on the surface.
Add the 2 cups sugar along with 5 cups water to a pressure cooker. Let it boil for 5 mins before adding the paneer balls. Close the lid and cook for 25-30 mins. Remove from the flame and allow to cool down to room temperature.