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).
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?