Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Quick Kesar Kalakand (Without Condensed Milk). Happy Diwali!

Hello folks! Surely you have all those sweets and festive munchies ready and stored away in boxes, waiting to be devoured? Surely all those delectable sweets you are seeing on your social media feed and phone are just ideas for the next festival? You have planned and prepared well ahead, just adding those final touches to the festive spread?  If you are thinking I am someone like that, sorry to disappoint you! 

Sometimes, I forget that I have to actually make something and not just drool over all those food images on my screen. It is most of the times the last minute mad dashing around to make ‘something at least’ as it is Diwali.

If you are like me, the tantalizing aromas from the neighbors’ kitchen begin to tease your senses and you are looking for one of those quick and easy recipes. Hey, no tricky ones okay? Good enough to make you and your family happy.  Decent enough to post on social media, impressive enough to call and tell your mother and sister all about it.

Good news! I have one such recipe here, perfect for procrastinating foodies.  Quick Kalakand, courtesy Tarla Dalal. Kalakand is traditionally made by cooking milk down for an hour or two. You will also find recipes for quicker versions of this sweet using condensed milk.  I sometimes find that condensed milk makes sweets too sweet, so tried this one.

In this recipe, milk powder, cream, grated paneer and sugar are simply cooked together for 10-15 minutes. I was a bit skeptical but found it pretty good, so had to share with you. But of course, the taste will not be exactly the same as the traditional version, but close enough!

Ingredients (to make  8-9 pieces). All ingredients measured using standard measuring cups. The recipe can easily be doubled.

Milk powder – ¾ cup
Soft paneer, crumbled – 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
(I used fresh, homemade)
Sugar  - ½ cup / 100 grams
Fresh cream ( I used Amul 25% fat) ¾ cup / 180 ml 
Saffron  - a generous pinch (soaked in 1 tablespoon hot milk)
Cardamom powder – ¼  teaspoon (optional)
Sliced pistachios and almonds for garnish

  • Start with making the paneer (if using homemade, see method below)

  • Grease a small thali (about 4'') lightly with ghee.  Alternatively, use small pretty silicon molds, you can simply unmold the pieces once set.

  • Take the milk powder, paneer, cream, saffron and sugar in a wide non-stick pan. Cook on medium heat stirring constantly for 10-15 minutes. 

  • The mixture will be liquidy to start with, but will gradually come together, leaving the sides of the pan.  Test taste for sweetness. I like kalakand slightly moist so prefer to take it off the heat earlier than later. If you overcook, it will dry out.
  • If you don’t need much convincing that it is fine to eat kalakand with a spoon as long as it is delicious, spoon the mixture into small dessert bowls.  If particular about cutting it into squares, transfer the mixture to the thali.  Sprinkle the pistachios and almonds. 
  • Cover with cling film and smooth the surface.  Chill for 2-3 hours, this makes it easier to cut the kalakand into pieces.

  • Best served at room temperature if you ask me. Take it out of the refrigerator about ½ hour before serving.  Leftovers can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

To make the paneer.  Heat 1-liter full-fat milk, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Add 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, stir till the milk solids separate and you see clear whey. Drain immediately and wash well under running water so the lemony smell is gone. Drain the cottage cheese for about 15-30 minutes or till most of the whey drains away and then proceed with the recipe.  Use this time to prep the rest of the ingredients. 

Wish you a very Happy Diwali! 

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