Rasmalai is yet another one of my favorite sweets. This Bengali specialty is made with rasgulla (sweetened balls of paneer) soaked in sweetened, thickened milk that has been scented with cardamom and saffron. The result is a creamy, dreamy dessert that absolutely melts in your mouth. Make this soft and tasty rasmalai recipe with my easy step-by-step photos.
Table of Contents
Also spelled ras malai, rasa malei, or rossomalai, this delicious dish is beloved all over the Indian subcontinent.
Ras means “juice” or “juicy”. Malai means “cream” and refers to thickened milk filled with clotted cream. This creamy thickened and sweetened milk is also known as Rabdi. This says a lot about this yummy recipe – it is milky, creamy and downright delectable.
Making rasmalai recipe at home is not difficult, even if you make them entirely from scratch. Start by making some of my Rasgulla a day or two before, and then later make the rasmalai with the thickened milk. Dividing work this way makes it easy. If you’re feeling short on time, you can absolutely use store bought rasgulla instead of homemade.
This recipe of thickened sweet milk or rabdi is made using the traditional method of reducing milk and thus tastes authentic like the rasmalai served in the Indian mithai shops (sweet shops).
Rasmalai is usually served chilled and simply garnished with some chopped nuts and saffron threads. While serving, set out the dish of leftover thickened milk with the rasmalai. I guarantee your guests will love this Indian dessert.
How to Make Rasmalai
This recipe is pretty simple, and I can’t wait for you to try it!
1. To make rasmalai, you will need 12 to 15 rasgulla. You can either make them at home or you can use store bought ones.
My post, How to make Rasgulla, is an excellent primer for those of you who wish to cook entirely from scratch.
2. Boil ½ cup water, then add 10 to 12 almonds. Cover and keep aside for 30 to 40 minutes.
NOTE: Usually both almonds and pistachios are added, but I had run out of pistachios, so I just used almonds. You can add about 10 to 12 each of the almonds and pistachios.
3. After 30 minutes, peel the almonds and slice them. Keep aside.
4. While the almonds are blanching, add 1 litre of full fat whole milk in a thick bottomed pan or kadai.
5. Bring the milk to a boil on medium flame.
6. While the milk is coming to a boil, take 2 tablespoons of warm milk from the pan and add it to a small bowl. Add 8 to 10 saffron strands. Stir and keep aside.
7. Once the milk has come to a boil, lower the flame and simmer the milk. Collect the floating cream and push it to the sides of the pan using a spoon or spatula. Continue to cook this way till the milk is reduced to half.
8. Keep on collecting the cream which floats on the top and move it to the sides. Also keep stirring the milk at intervals so that the milk does not scorch.
This process of reducing the milk will take about 20 to 25 minutes after the first boil on a low to medium flame.
9. Once the milk has reduced to half of its original volume, add 4 to 5 tablespoons of sugar, or as per your taste.
10. Stir well so that the sugar dissolves. Scrape the milk solids from the sides and reincorporate them into the simmering milk.
11. Add ½ teaspoon cardamom powder.
12. Add most of the sliced almonds, reserving a few for garnish.
13. Also add the saffron dissolved milk.
14. Stir to incorporate. Keep simmering the reduced milk at a low heat and stir occasionally. Check the taste and add more sugar if required.
I usually do not thicken the milk quite to Rabri consistency, as the rasgullas need to soak some of the sweetened milk. Just reduce the milk till it’s roughly half of its original quantity.
15. Take each rasgulla and gently apply pressure with a spatula so the sugar syrup is removed from it. You can also press and squeeze the rasgulla in your palms. Be gentle and don’t apply too much pressure, as the rasgulla will break. There should be no sugar syrup in the rasgulla.
16. Press all the rasgulla balls this way.
17. Now place the squeezed rasgullas in the simmering milk.
18. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on low heat. You can omit this step and simply place the rasgulla in the prepared rabdi. But they will be more juicy and flavorful if you let them simmer for a couple of minutes.
19. Switch off the heat and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of either rose water or kewra water (pandanus water).
20. Stir gently. Cover and let the rasmalai come to room temperature, then chill thoroughly in the fridge in a covered bowl or container.
Serve rasmalai garnished with some sliced almonds or pistachios and saffron strands. You can also serve rasmalai warm or at room temperature if you prefer. Enjoy!
Helpful Tips & Variations
- Rasgulla: If you plan to make the rasgulla then make sure to use whole milk. My comprehensive and detailed post of Rasgulla Recipe will help you to make these cottage cheese balls easily. Remember to flatten the balls to a thick or medium-thick patty like shape before you boil them in the sugar syrup.
- Rabdi: To make the rabdi or the liquid base of this sweet, use whole milk or full fat milk to get the clotted cream or malai. Skimmed milk or toned milk simply won’t give you the same results. You can use pasteurized and homogenized milk.
- Nuts: While almonds and pistachios are the nuts that are always added, you can opt for nuts like cashews and pine nuts. Blanching the nuts does change their texture and makes them taste better. Omit the blanching to save time an extra step if you prefer while making this rasmalai recipe. Ensure that you do not use salted nuts.
- Flavorings: Saffron, rose water, kewra water (pandanus water) and cardamom powder are the classic Indian flavorings included in most sweets. Feel free to skip any one if you don’t have. Instead of rose water and kewra water, add one to two drops of edible rose essence or kewra essence.
You are certainly welcome to just let the rasgulla soak in the sweetened milk sauce, but they will take on more flavor and more juiciness if you give them some time to simmer.
It will last for 2 to 3 days in the fridge, and can be used for making roti, in rice based dishes, added to soups or lentils.
Absolutely! They’ll last for 2 to 3 days in the fridge, so I recommend preparing them a day or two in advance of when you want to serve them.
Drink it! It is sweet and delicious.
Rasmalai is made by soaking or cooking rasgulla in thickened milk for a few minutes. The rasgulla balls absorb the flavor of the sweetened flavored milk and becomes soft. These soft balls are served together with the sweetened thickened milk. For rasgulla the chenna balls (cottage cheese balls) are cooked in sugar syrup. Once they cooked through and become spongy, they are served with the sugar syrup and not thickened milk.
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- 12 to 15 Rasgulla – homemade or store brought ones
- 1 litre whole milk
- 4 to 5 tablespoons sugar or add as required
- 10 to 12 almonds unsalted – blanched
- 10 to 12 pistachios unsalted – blanched
- ½ cup water for blanching the almonds and pistachios
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 to 2 teaspoons rose water or kewra water (pandanus water)
- 8 to 10 saffron strands
- few saffron strands – for garnish
- To make rasmalai you will need 12 to 15 rasgulla. Either you can buy them from stores or make them at home.
- Boil ½ cup water. Then add almonds and pistachios. Cover and keep aside for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Later peel the almonds, pistachios and slice them finely. Set aside.
Thickening milk to make rabdi
- When the almonds are blanching, take milk in a thick bottomed pan or kadai.
- Bring the milk to a boil on medium heat stirring at intervals.
- Whilst the milk is coming to a boil, take 2 tablespoons of milk from the pan in a small bowl.
- Let this milk become warm. Add crushed saffron strands. Stir and keep aside.
- Once the milk has come to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the milk. Collect the floating clotted cream (malai) on the sides. Continue to cook this way till the milk is reduced to half.
- Keep on collecting the cream which floats on the top and move it to the sides. Also keep on stirring the milk at intervals so that the milk does not get scorched at the bottom.
- Add sugar and stir well so that the sugar dissolves.
- Then add cardamom powder.
- Add the blanched and sliced almonds and pistachios. Reserve a few almonds and pistachios for garnishing.
- Also add the saffron infused milk.
- Stir again. Keep simmering the reduced milk at a low heat.
- Take each rasgulla and with a spatula and apply pressure, so the excess sugar syrup is removed from it. You can also press and squeeze each rasgulla in your palms. Be gentle and don't apply too much of pressure. As then the rasgullas will break. Repeat with all the rasgulla balls.
- Now place the rasgulla in the simmering milk and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on a low heat.
- Switch off the heat and then add rose water or kewra water (pandanus water).
- Stir gently. Cover and let the rasmalai come to room temperature. Then chill in a covered container or bowl. Serve garnished with blanched, sliced almonds or pistachios that were kept aside and a few saffron strands.
- You can also serve rasmalai warm or at room temperature.
- If using tinned or store-brought rasgulla, then make sure they are fresh and in their shelf period.
- For making the thickened milk or rabdi, use whole milk. You can also use homogenized and pasteurized milk.
- Refrigerate the rasmalai in a covered container. It keeps well for 2 to 3 days in the fridge. So you can make ahead this dessert a few days before serving.You can also make the rasgulla first and refrigerate them for a couple of days.
- For the nuts, you can add almonds, cashews, pine nuts and pistachios.
- For the flavorings you can skip any one or try to have your own combinations from – green cardamom powder, saffron, rose water or kewra water.
- The recipe can be scaled up for a larger serving.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Rasmalai recipe post from the archives (Jan 2015) has been updated and republished on 20 October 2021.