Thursday, February 23, 2017

A taste of home: 2-ingredient Kalakand

One of the things I didn’t see made at home was sweets. Growing up in India, it was easy to step out to a halwai ki dukan (sweetmeat shop) and choose whatever caught your fancy. My mom usually made a couple of basics like halwa and kheer in her kitchen to mark a holiday, but we bought the rest. As with everything else, it’s easier to shift the responsibility of not being able to make desserts to my life as a child in India J.

It was hard to live without Indian sweets after moving to USA. Throughout my first pregnancy, I craved for boondi-ka-laddu and kaju-ki-katli.…..Things weren’t the same 15yrs ago – we had one small grocery store that sold Indian staples, and the variety of frozen food that you see today was non-existent. Even if you did drive 1-2h to the big grocery stores, things didn’t exactly taste like they should have. Over years, the sweet taste buds kind of dampened, and I started forgetting things that I’d liked in India. And then, as my daughters grew older and got to eat sweets that our friends brought back from their trips to India, my forgotten love re-ignited. We started to ask visiting friends and family to carry boxes of Indian sweets; just so the girls could enjoy them.  

Very recently have I started learning how to make a few of the common sweets at home. To many of you, these would appear trivial; for me anything that the girls decide to like, is a triumph!

This recipe of a milk fudge called Kalakand is from a dear friend. She actually won a cooking contest with this recipe - I believe she herself had picked it up from the net. I have simplified it somewhat; and use a microwave to cut down cooking time substantially. Here's how I make Kalakand.
Whole milk ricotta cheese 15oz
Sugar 1cup (I use a equal mix of white and brown sugar)

Cardamom powder 1tsp
Crushed nuts to garnish (I used pistachios)

How I did it:
  1. Mix the sugar and ricotta cheese in a microwave safe bowl until creamy and lump-free.
  2. Start microwaving in cycles- 2 min on high-stir- 2 min on high
  3. After about 8 min, the mixture starts to bubble and thicken, and appears granular (daanedar). At this point, add the cardamom powder, give one last stir and another minute in the microwave.
  4. Spread the mixture on a greased parchment paper.
  5. Allow to cool completely; then sprinkle the chopped nuts and and enjoy.
My two-cents: I used to love milk-based sweets back home in India. And I said, I haven't eaten the authentic version in a very long time. I won't pretend that this is IT- but it is very good. Add to it that you spend barely 15 min from start to finish with just 2 ingredients; it's totally worth a try.  Remember- cooking times will vary based on microwaves; so keep an eye on it till you know.

I have made a few times already; and the kids liked it a lot. That's incentive enough for the recipe to be a keeper J