Rasgulla are a truly delicious dessert which trace their origins to Bengal. They are universally famed all across India – you will be sure to find them in sweet shops all across the country, being served at weddings and shared with family on festive occasions. The sweets are made by boiling milk to separate the milk solids from the whey. The solids are kneaded and formed into balls, which are then cooked in a sweet cardamon and rose infused sugar syrup. They become light and spongy, soaking up all the sweetness and gentle perfume of the syrup.
A lot of people find Indian desserts intimidating to make or have never experienced them. It is absolutely worth making your own at home – they are mouth-wateringly good and actually quite easy to make. Some people believe Indian sweets are too sweet, but when you make them at home you can adjust the sugar content to taste. If you follow my instructions, you will end up with perfect Rasgulla every time!
Every bite from a rasgulla is filled with a mild sweetness punctuated with the subtle fragrance of rose water and cardamon. The texture is incredibly soft; creamy, almost melting in the mouth and yet aerated, delightfully spongy.
The sugar syrup is not thick or sticky – it’s meant to be thin so it can be drunk alongside a small piece of the spongy Rasgulla. Because it’s quite thin, it’s not unusual to have some left over. Subsequently, it’s a good idea to use any leftover syrup in other sweets or even drinks!
Is this recipe Gluten Free, Nut-Free or Vegan?
This recipe is not vegan as it uses dairy milk as an essential ingredient. Furthermore, it can’t easily be made with plant-based milk. However, it is Gluten-Free and Nut-Free – provided you don’t use pistachios while garnishing. Some recipes use plain flour to knead the chenna before making the rasgulla, but I have kept the recipe simple and easy.
Rasgulla - Bengali Sweets in a Cardamon Sugar Syrup
For the Rasgulla:
- 1 Litre Full-Fat Milk
- 2 tbsp Vinegar
- 4 Ice-Cubes
For the Sugar Syrup:
- 1 Litre Water
- 250 – 300g Sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
- 4 Cardamon Pods
- 1/4 tsp Rose Water
- Pistachios, chopped – omit for a Nut-Free recipe
- 4 Strands Saffron
- Dried Rose Petals
- To make the Chenna, begin by pouring one litre of milk into a heavy bottomed, deep saucepan over low-medium heat. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent the layer of cream forming at the top or any milk sticking to the pan. Once the milk has boiled add the vinegar and stir in one direction only, until you can see the milk solids separating from the whey (greenish yellow liquid). At this point switch off the heat and immediately add the ice cubes to prevent the solids from further cooking – this will make softer rasgulla.
- Firstly, line a thin cheesecloth or un-dyed cotton cloth over a sieve. Place the sieve over another pan. Carefully pour the milk solids and whey into the sieve – the solids will collect in the cloth whereas the whey will drain through underneath. Cool this whey and use it in your cooking, to make curries or chapatis. Lift the sieve and run cold water through the collected milk solids to rinse off the taste of the vinegar.
- Squeeze all the liquid from the milk solids (this is called chenna). Tie the cloth tightly around the chenna. Place the bundle onto a large plate and balance another small plate on top of it. Add some weights on-top of the plate and press the milk solids for around 30 minutes to drain out excess moisture.
- To make the Rasgulla, remove the milk solids from the cloth and place them all into a small plate or onto a work surface. Knead with the palm of your hands until they become smooth and no longer grainy. When pressed together, the mixture should create a smooth ball. If you’ve knead the mixture enough your hands should be slightly greasy.
- After that, separate the kneaded chenna into either 22 small balls, or 11 larger balls. Secondly, roll them in your hands to create smooth balls with no cracks. Once done, lightly cover with a cloth and set aside.
- To make the Sugar Syrup, add water, sugar and cardamon pods to a deep, very wide pan* over medium-high heat. Once the water starts boiling, remove the cardamon pods and add the rose water. Carefully drop the rasgulla into the pan and immediately place a lid. Cook for ten minutes, then turn off the heat. The rasgulla should have doubled in size. Check if the rasgulla have cooked by dropping a ball into a bowl of cold water. You can tell the rasgulla is cooked when it sinks to the bottom.
- Cover the saucepan with the lid once again and wait for the rasgulla to come to room temperature. Serve at this temperature or place in the fridge and serve cold.
- Serve rasgulla with a liberal helping of the sugar syrup and optionally, a few saffron strands, chopped pistachios, and dried rose petals.
*Make sure the pan is large enough to accommodate the rasgulla as they will double in size and should not be touching. If you don’t have a big enough pan, make in two separate saucepans at the same time.
How to Serve Rasgulla?
Serve Rasgulla chilled as a sweet end to a meal. They will fit perfectly on any Indian thali (A selection of small dishes on a large steel plate). However, it’s not unusual to simply eat them as a snack.
Moreover, they are perfect to serve on a festive occasion such as birthdays, or on Indian festivals like Dussehra, Diwali, or Holi.
How to Store Rasgulla?
Store rasgulla in an airtight container in the fridge. Submerge the Rasgulla in sugar syrup at all times for freshness. Eat them within 3-4 days.
In conclusion, if you have any questions about this recipe, please comment down below and I will help as best I can. As always, if you give this recipe a try please let me know by posting a picture of your creation on Instagram or Facebook and tagging @ohmyvegofficial. I would love to see!