Indian sweets are comfort food for me, after all this is what I grew up eating all these years. Diwali or Deepawali is perhaps the most beautiful of Hindu festivals in India. Diwali signifies the victory of good over evil and is commonly celebrated across most states in India. Personally for me each festival brings hope, life, energy and happiness. This Diwali has been special to all of us, especially since it's our daughter's first one.
The store I hit often has been flooded with Diwali goodies. Supermarkets boast of Diwali festivity with neatly stacked gift boxes of dry fruits and sweet-meats beckoning every nook and corner. Ofcourse, then when you talk about Diwali, how can you not picture traditional Indian sweets? While traditional desserts may not be a part of daily Indian menu, they do feature on festivals making them an integral part of our festive celebrations.
I have been dreaming of making Kalakand since a long time now, ever since I saw the recipe in Nestle recipe book that came with Milkmaid. The book itself is named as Diwali special sweets with 9 traditional Indian recipes, all worth trying. I am glad I tried this out and was loved by all.
Recipe by Nestle's Milkmaid recipe booklet, also available on Nestle.com
1 tin (400g) Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 heaped tbsps Milk powder
500 g Paneer (Cottage Cheese)
3-4 powdered Cardamom (Elaichi)
Mash paneer coarsely and mix in milk powder and condensed milk. Heat the mixture in a thick bottom pan. Cook on medium heat with constant stirring till the mixture becomes thick and starts leaving the sides of the pan. Remove from the fire and spread onto a greased plate. Sprinkle elaichi powder & top with silver leaf or sprinkle kesar soaked in water & top with almond slivers. Cool and cut into squares.
Kalakand is expected to have a soft, crumbly texture with every bite. Don't be alarmed if you have some whey leaving from the edges while spreading the Kalakand. Good, soft Kalakand has some whey water seperating from it when it is spread on the tray. Most of it gets absorbed as the Kalakand cools. For this dessert in particular, I suggest it's best to make cottage cheese at home using fresh milk. However, if you are short on time, a store bought paneer works equally good. I have made this dessert a couple of times and it does feature on my favorites.
I used cardamom to flavor this dessert, but saffron flavored, Kesar Kalakand is definitely on my to-do list. Place each kalakand on paper cup and pack them to be shared with your family and friends. With subtle warm hints from cardamom, this dessert is rich and makes a great give away as gift.