Long before ice cream, before desserts laden with preservatives and colors, ras malai tickled the sweet palettes of Indians after dinner. Made of paneer, ras malai is a simple combination of soft cheese balls soaked in sweetened, thickened milk delicately flavored with cardamom. This popular Indian dessert can be found throughout the country and Pakistan, where sweet shops keep large bowls of the delectable dessert inside cooled glass cases.
Saddle up to the counter to place an order; Rs 10 (25¢) buys one ball (surrounded by the unique flavor of the sweetened milk) served in a shallow mini bowl. Use the miniature spoon to scoop up the dessert or just sip it by the rim of the bowl as the locals do. Eating only one ball just wets the tongue, two coats the mouth, three is finally enough to cool you from the heat of the day.
Travelers will want to make this delicious treat at home. It involves only a few basic ingredients and a few hours of time. As in India, serve it chilled and garnished with slivers of dried fruit.