India and Spain Collide in this Ras Malai


At the end of 2008, Jim and I ventured to India to explore, eat and attend a wedding. 

Jim, who puts the P in picky eater, ate everything and LOVED IT!  (Except for the betel leave).  He managed, however, to completely avoid Indian desserts.

Back home Jim’s avoidance technique is foiled by the charming owner of our favorite Indian restaurant, who always brings us a complimentary dessert to sample after we’ve gorged ourselves on dal, jalfrezi and an assortment of curries.  The other week, on two separate occasions (once at the restaurant and once at a friend’s house) Jim was faced with his most dreaded Indian dessert – ras malai.  You see, he just can’t handle the texture of paneer. 

Liking the taste but not necessarily the texture of ras malai myself, Jim’s second encounter with the dreaded dessert started the wheels in my head turning.  How can you get the flavor of ras malai without the texture?

The substitute would have to be able to absorb the flavors of the ras malai sauce and not be too overpowering in its own right.  Hmmm . . . And then, the solution leaped into my mind, FLAN

So, yes, my spin on ras malai is an Indian/Spanish mash-up and against all odds it actually works!  Interested in trying it out for yourself?  Here’s how I did it:

First, the Flan

  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 6 large eggs (I like farm fresh eggs personally, they make a creamier custard)
  • 2 13 oz cans lowfat evaporated milk
  • 1 14 oz can regular sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 TBSP vanilla
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Pour the evaporated milk into a bowl and add the cinnamon stick.  You can proceed to the next step or put the evaporated milk/cinnamon stick combo in the fridge for a few hours to allow the milk to thoroughly soak up the cinnamon flavor. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a largish bowl (if you have a mixing bowl with a pouring spout, that would be ideal), whisk together the 6 eggs.  Next slowly mix in the evaporated milk and condensed milk, sugar and then vanilla.  Blend until smooth.

Pour the mixture into 6-10 ramekins (number depends on size; for the size pictured here, you will need 10 to use all the custard mix). 

Place the ramekins into a large glass or ceramic baking dish and fill with 1-2 inches of hot water.  Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes.  Check with a knife slightly off center, if it comes out clean, it’s time to take the ramekins out, cover them and pop them into the fridge for an hour.

Next, the Ras Malai Sauce

  • 3 c. whole milk
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tsps cardamom powder
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced pistachios for garnish (can also use slivers of dried fruit or almonds)

Pour the milk and 1/2 c. sugar into a saucepan and boil (stirring frequently) until the mixture is thickened and reduced 75%.  Remove from heat, add cardomom powder and mix well.

Remove flan from ramekins and place in a dish (I popped my flans out, by circling the edges of each ramekin with a plastic spatula).

Flan ready for the ras malai sauce

Pour the sauce over the flan, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To serve, plate one flan in a bowl and cover with sauce.  Garnish with sliced pistachios and/or dried fruit.  Voila!

Do you have any foods you can’t eat because of the texture?  How do you work around it, or do you just avoid the foods altogether?

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10 Responses

  1. That looks delicious, I love pistachio added to deserts!

    On a separate note, can you recommend a yummy Indian restuarant in Seattle…I’ve been craving it lately and don’t know of a good spot yet!?

    • My favorite is Chutney’s in the Wallingford Center. They have an organic menu as well as a regular one and Harish, the owner, is charming.

  2. It’s so funny that you made flan, because I don’t like flan very much – because of the texture! Creme brulee, totally different, but flan – it’s toooo something?

    • I used to think that too, until I had a really good creamy flan. If it’s been a while, you may want to give it another try 😉

  3. Sarah, now that really looks like a great sweet treat!
    A perfect marriage of two cultures.

    Bon appetit!

  4. Looks delicious! And I love your apron. I too am a big fan of pretty aprons…can’t cook without one!

    I’ll be sure to vote for you in PFB. You can check out my entry (pita and falfel) at

    • Thanks Kellie. My Mom gave me that apron for my b’day and I just love it! I am officially out of PFB but will definitely take a look at your entry. Best of luck in PFB!

  5. I also have a hard time with flan/custard desserts. My sister loves creme brulee, but I just can’t stomach them! It sounds like your trip to India was amazing, and its great that you were able to recreate an Indian dessert at home. Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. If only we had perfected the science of teleportation, I could have asked you to send some of that tasty Ras Malai that you made :).

  7. I don’t eat avocados because of the texture. I think you had a really good idea to make a flan, and that sauce sounds amazing. I’ve always wanted to go to an Indian wedding. Your lucky you got to go to India!

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