Thursday, November 20, 2008

Belated Diwali Treat : Kalakand

It's been long since I visited my blog. So, here I am stuck with an empty page for the past 15 mins not knowing where to start. I'm writing sentences back and forth and deleting them after a few minutes. Anyway, I'm determined to come out of my hibernation although it's not the appropriate time for it.

Last year for Diwali I had so much time in hand that I experimented on many new sweets. But this time I wanted something quick and new. So I ended up doing Kalakand. The inspiration to do this was from my colleague Vinaya who brought this sweet during our Halloween Potluck. From that time onwards I became hooked to this sweet that I decided to give it a try for Diwali. So... many THANKS to Vinaya for introducing this sweet to me.

The Kalakand you see below is not made out of hours of labor in the kitchen. There is actually a short cut way. Some of you must be already familiar with the Ricotta cheese method and that is what I followed here. I've never tried the traditional way of doing Kalakand and I'm sure it will taste the best….. but I guarantee you - when you try this method you will find a very marginal difference between the two or sometimes you might not even notice any difference.

The version that my friend had brought was the plain Kalakand. So, I decided to get creative and make two more types of kalakand - The Mango Kalakand and the Chocolate Kalakand. So far, I have done this for 3 parties and the variety that won the most votes was the Mango Kalakand. But my vote is for the Chocolate one. The plain ones were also very good but for some reason the kids liked it the most.

So, here goes the recipe:

Ricotta cheese: 1 (30 oz tub) - Whole Milk
Sweetened Condensed milk - 3 cans
Elachi powder - 1/2 tsp for each batch
Ghee - for greasing the microwavable container and the tray in which you are going to pour the Kalakand.
Chopped nuts - Qty as desired (Pista, almonds)

The quantity I have mentioned above serves a large crowd. I made 3 batches out the cheese quantity I mentioned above (see the 2nd picture… but we ate some before we took pictures). So, if you want to first try a small batch use just 1 can of milkmaid and equal amounts of ricotta cheese. I forgot to mention something... this is a recipe that uses microwave for cooking and not the stove. In future I'll experiment with the stove top as well and update you.

Take a microwave safe cooking bowl (Corning ware) and grease it with ghee. Pour 1 can of milkmaid and equal amounts of ricotta cheese. Blend them to a smooth liquid. Add elachi powder and mix again. Keep the bowl in the microwave and cook it for 5 mins in high power. My microwave says power 10. In-between these 5 mins keep an eye on the liquid mixture as it might boil over if you are using a small bowl. To be on the safe side, I would recommend using a big bowl that enough room for the cheese mixture to rise a little bit.

After the first 5 minutes, take out the bowl and give a good mix. Stick it back into the microwave for another 5 mins. This time, you need to watch your cheese mixture very keenly as it might boil over. Pause the microwave anytime if needed, give the mixture a stir and continue cooking.

By the end of the 10th minute, the mixture would have become somewhat thick. Scrape the sides and blend well. Again put the bowl in the microwave for another 5 mins. At this stage, open the microwave every 1 min and stir the contents well each and every time. The kalakand is done when the cheese mixture becomes grainy and still has some moisture in it. You might get this stage by the 15th minute or 17th minute.

Take out the bowl from the microwave and pour/scoop the contents to a ghee greased tray. Pile it up a little high so that you can get pieces out of them. While the mixture is still hot, spread the chopped nuts and slightly press them down. Wait for 1/2 an hour to 45 mins. Take a pizza cutter or knife and cut them neatly into squares.

Don't worry if you see the kalakand with some extra moisture at this stage. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours if needed. You will be able to take out the entire pieces fine.

Note: For the Mango version, just use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of mango pulp. Mix the pulp with cheese and condensed milk. Follow the same procedure as above. Just increase the cooking time by 2 more minutes.

For the Chocolate version, I used 2 tbsp of Hershey's milk chocolate powder. But when I did this batch, I noticed that the mixture got its grainy texture by the end of the 10th minute itself. So, I trusted my instincts and stopped cooking further. Finally, I realized that I did the right thing. The kalakands came out perfectly fine.

Another version that you could try is to add MTR Badam feast powder to the Ricotta cheese mixture. I have not tried this before but my friend Vinaya suggested this idea. Maybe I'll try it next time.

So... Folks are you ready to give it a try???

The other sweet that I made was my Kaju kathli and for snacks I made murrukku. As I posted the recipes for these earlier I'm not going to elaborate on this.

Ok Guys, time to go. Before that... Thanks to all my blog friends and readers for your sweet comments and enquires. Sorry to many of you for not responding to their queries. I'll start spending some time on my blog each week to make up for the lost time.

Take care and happy eating!