•Cow’s milk – 2 litres (Use milk with atleast 2 % or above fat content)
•White vinegar – 7-8 teaspoons
•Sugar – 1.2 kilograms (about 2 ¼ cups)
•Few Cardamoms- crushed.Rose essence – optional
•Milk – 2 tablespoons.Water – 5 cups
FOR MAKING PANEER SANDWICH
•Paneer – as made above
•Refined flour (Maida) – ½ teaspoon
•Corn flour/ corn starch – 1/2 teaspoon.Pinch of baking powder
•1/2 cup of Sweet Mawa/ Khoya/ Malai/ Rabri
•Saffron (kesar) – 5-6 strands (optional) soaked in a teaspoonful of milk
•2-3 tsp of icing sugar/powdered sugar (Or as per taste)
•food color – yellow/pink/green
•Fewunsalted pistachios- finely sliced
(Note:The paneer layer in this recipe is a thick one, but you can make as thin or as thick as you prefer)
1. To Make Paneer Squares :
Bring the milk to a boil on high heat. Put off the gas and put the pan down.
Mix the vinegar in one and three-fourth cups of water and gradually add to the hot milk stirring all the time till the milk curdles. Add three to four cups of water and a few ice cubes and stir.
Strain the paneer through a piece of muslin cloth and squeeze to remove the excess whey. Wash the twisted cloth with the paneer in it under running cold tap water for 3-4 minutes.(This is to get rid of the vinegar flavor). Squeeze out excess water, and hang the cloth for 5-8 minutes to completely separate the whey from paneer. But do not let it rest more than 20 minutes.
(Do not discard this protein rich whey, use it to add value to Dal or use it for kneading dough for Roti/chapati.)
Transfer the paneer into a bowl. Add half teaspoon of refined flour, corn flour and a pinch of baking powder and knead for 5-8 minutes. Knead well, pressing with the heel of your hand, till the mixture is absolutely smooth.(You can use food processor or a small mixer. Pulse it for less than a minute) It is only by this kneading process that the smoothness in taste comes.
Pinch very small piece of this dough. First make a soft round ball without cracks and then shape it into squares, taking care that there are no cracks visible.
Keep the size medium, as they tend to swell up, more than double of their original size after being cooked in syrup. Repeat the procedure till all the dough is used up.
2.To make the syrup:
In the meantime, take a pressure cooker (or any thick bottomed vessel), cook the sugar with five cups of water, along with crushed cardamoms and let it boil till sugar dissolves. Add the milk and bring the syrup to a boil. Collect the scum which rises to the surface with a ladle, and discard. Continue to cook the syrup for a few minutes longer. Strain the syrup into a bowl. Rose essence can be added now in place of crushed cardamoms.
3. Cooking the Paneer squares:
Pour one cup of strained syrup, reserving the rest, into a deep, wide non-stick pan; add four to five cups of water and bring to a boil.
Carefully drop all the paneersquares in the boiling syrup.Do not stir but justagitate the syrup gently so that the squares do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Close the lid of pressure cooker (or cover it with a lid if making it in an open vessel).
Wait for 1 whistle (or boil for 20-25 minutes in open vessel). Lower the flame and cook for 1-2 minutes more or till the paneer squares spring back when pressed lightly. This is a sign that they are cooked.
Put off the flame and let the pressure release from cooker. Now you should have soft spongy, sweetened, double the original size,squares of paneer.
Remove the paneer squares with a slotted spoon and place it in the reserved syrup to soak. Keep it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 to 6-7 hours, or till the paneer squares absorb the syrup.
4. Making the filling
Now take the stuffing that you are using, add powdered or icing sugar if needed and mix well.Add the soaked saffron to enrich the flavors. Use less of milk to soak the saffron if you are using Malai, as it will dilute the consistency further. Optionally, divide the filling and add pink/yellow/green coloras desired.
5. Assembling the Malai Sandwich
Now slice the squared paneerhorizontally in the center, and place a spoonful of the colorful stuffing on one of the slice, and cover it with another slice, pressing gently. Instead of completely slicing apart, you can cut the square till 3/4 th, leaving the ends joined with each other. Repeat the process for all the squares.
Garnish it with some finely sliced pistachios.
Refrigerate for few hours. When chill, serve to the Lord and enjoy the prasad.
By Bhaktin Meena