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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mava - Also known as Khoya, Khava and Khoa

Mava is probably one of the most essential ingredients when one wants to make Indian sweets like pedha, laddoo or barfis. Mava or Khoa is milk that has been cooked for so long that the water content has evaporated and you are left with the milk solids. These milk solids contain all the fatty and protein content of the milk and are extremely delicious. Now, to make mava from milk is a lengthy process. You need to let the milk simmer and cook at a low temperature making sure that it doesn't boil over and keep stirring occasionally to ensure that it doesn't burn.

The only person I ever saw make mava at home from milk was my grandfather. He used to enjoy milk and mithai made from mava. So, instead of buying mava from the store, he used to reduce milk and make mava at home. It used to take the entire afteroon but by evening we used to have a feast of freshly made milkcake or kalakand.

When I wanted to make mithai, I realized that the local Indian store didn't carry this all essential ingredient. So naturally I had to cook it at home (if I ever wanted to eat mithai). I wasn't keen on spending many hours reducing milk, so I looked up many different methods. Over the years after some experimentation I think I have perfected the art of making mava at home. This is a quicker process than reducing milk and tastes exactly like the mava made from milk that has been cooked for hours.

1 tbsp clarified butter/ghee
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup milk powder

Mix together the ricotta cheese and milk powder till they are well blended. The ricotta cheese is generally grainy and when you mix these two together, the texture will also smooth out. In a broad pan, heat the ghee and add the ricotta cheese and milk powder mixture. Stir occasionally and cook on low heat, so that it doesn't burn.

The mixture will start boiling and bubbling and slowly the moisture will evaporate. Stir so that the solids don't burn and finally you will be left with a cream colored mixture. At this point, the aroma will also change from smelling like ricotta cheese to something that smells like a mixture of ghee and milk. At this stage taste it and check if the raw ricotta taste has gone and if so, your mava is ready for further use.

I generally blend the ricotta cheese and milk powder in a blender to get a smooth texture. If you cook on low heat, you don't have to pay constant attention to it and so the process while time consuming will not seem cumbersome. Mava is used in all kinds of barfis and pedhas, but it is also added to gajar halwa, kheer and dudhi halwa to enhance the taste of these sweet dishes.


  1. Can you make rasmalai with this? I know people who make rasmalai with ricotta, and wondering if this is how they prep the ricotts first. But for rasmalai I suppose you don't mind the grainy taste- in fact you want that, and then add pieces of that to sweetened evaporated milk. Do you by any chance have an actual rasmalai recipe that's easy and works well? Thanks! :)

  2. Hi Deepali - you cannot make ras malai with this mainly because the ricotta cheese gets completely reduced to mava, so it tastes exactly like the mava you get in an Indian mithai store.

    Traditionally ras malai is made just like rasgulla, and is paneer based. Ricotta cheese is almost like paneer, and based on the recipes that I have read, people bake the ricotta cheese for a while and then add it to the milk. However, I haven't tried that yet. I did eat mithai made from baked ricotta cheese, and you still don't completely lose the taste of ricotta cheese when bake it. So, I am not sure how close it is to the authentic taste if baked ricotta cheese is added to the ras malai milk.
    If you wanted to use a traditional method, you would need to make flat rasgullas and add this to the ras malai milk (you can use the rasgulla recipe on the site). Another quick and semi-home made method is to get a ready made pack of rasgullas and add those to homemade ras malai milk. However, this question does make me want to experiment with ricotta cheese. If I can make a tasty ras malai with ricotta cheese, I will definitely post the recipe.

  3. Thanks Priyadarshini...for some reason I could only just see your answer :) I will experiment as well with ricotta sometime and let your know... I have definitely used bought rasgullas and out them in Tasmania milk to make rasmalai...that has been my go to way to make it for ever.

  4. Hi P S Gokhale, which milk powder did you use?

    1. I used the fat free milk powder. That is the only one that I usually have available.