RAWALPINDI: The local version of the Bengali sweet, ras malai, has been a staple dessert at sweet shops no matter the season.
Ras malai, though originally made with cheese, is now made with dry milk powder.
White dough balls made of dry milk powder are dipped in saffron infused milk, and garnished with pistachios and almonds.
The dish is Bengali in origin, but is now popular in various parts of the Indian subcontinent.
In the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, it is not difficult to find shops offering the popular dessert, even in the winter.
Ras malai is made by mixing dry milk powder, baking powder and corn flour with butter and eggs in a bowl.
White dough balls are dipped in saffron infused milk, and garnished with pistachios and almonds
The dough is then divided into small balls and dropped in boiling milk with sugar, and left to simmer for three to five minutes.
“We do not make the sweet balls with cheese, as that was a purely Bengali recipe. In this region people prefer ras malai made from milk,” Mohammad Pervaiz, the owner of a sweets shop in Saddar, explained.
He said that, like barfi and gulab jaman, ras malai is sold in the winter and in the summer.
“People want chilled ras malai in the winter as well,” he said.
Mohammad Nafees, who owns a sweets shop in Raja Bazaar, said his shop deals with kulfi and chilled milk in the summer, but sells ras malai throughout the year.
“Warm halwa is also available, but most children demand ras malai while their parents order halwa,” he said.
He said the recipe is simple, but difficult to store.
“We make the dish according to the day’s requirements,” he said.
“I have been fond of ras malai since I was a child. I can point out the best shops in the twin cities for ras malai because I’ve tried all of them,” Ahsan Ahmed, a resident of Chaklala Scheme-III, said.
Ali Asghar said ras malai is both delicious and a healthy option.
“Milk and dairy products are healthy for children as well as the elderly. Instead of going for fried halwa, ras malai would be a better option after a heavy lunch or dinner,” he said.
He said that many sweets shops also make ras malai for diabetes patients, but was not aware whether they used sweeteners instead of sugar.