Celebrating Ram Navmi
I was suppose to blog yesterday, because it was Ram Navmi but power cuts made this impossible.Ram Navmi is the birthday of Lord Ram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Ram Navmi is celebrated widely in India and by Hindus all over the world. Different regions of India celebrate it in different ways. Most north Indian states celebrate for 9 days with fasting, Akhand Paath followed by arti and prasad on the final day. Lord Ram is placed in a cot on these days. In the south it is celebrated as the wedding anniversary of Lord Ram and Sita. Swaminarayans celebrate this day as the birthday of Lord Swaminarayan. Whatever the reason, it a festive time for all. The temples in Mombasa celebrate Ram Navmi starting with the abhishek of Lord Ram and Sita, follwed by arti, a short discourse on the Ramayan and mahaprasad. Many hindus fast on this auspicious day and end the fast in the evening. Some break the fast by eating normal food in the evening and some fast the whole day without having any grains, beans or cereals. Very much like the fast for Ekadashi.
This Ram Navmi I decided to make some kalakand. I used the quick recipe. In the original one you have to boil milk till it becomes thick and then add the paneer. I took a short cut and the end result was a good kalakand which is not too sweet. It tastes better when it is a bit cold. I have left mine in the fridge.
Makes 16 small pieces
For the paneer (cottage cheese) :
you need 250g paneer for this recipe. I got 250g paneer from 1½ litres of milk. It may vary according to the milk available in your area.
1½ litres milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ can (200ml) of sweet condensed milk
2 tbsp milk powder
8 to 10 pistachios, cut into thin slivers
8 to 10 almonds (cut into thin slivers)
¼ tsp cardamom powder
few strands of saffron
1 tbsp hot water
To prepare the paneer :
- Put the milk in a pan over mdium heat. Let it come to a boil. Add lemon juice and switch off the heat.
- After a minute turn on the heat again and the milk will begin to curdle.
- Stir very gently and take the pan off the heat.
- Take a colander or big sieve. Put it in the sink or over a big bowl. Place a big clean cotton or muslin cloth over the colander or sieve.
- Pour the curdled milk into the colander.
- Wash the paneer under running water to remove the lemon.
- Gather the edges of the cloth together and squeeze out the excess water.
- Let the water drain out for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the paneer from the cloth and put it into a bowl.
- Mash it up into small crumbly bits using a fork.
- Grease a 4 or 5 inch square tray or any small rectangle tray you have with some clarified butter (ghee)or unslated butter.
- Soak saffron in the hot water.
- Pour 200ml of the condensed milk into a small saucepan. Add the paneer and milk powder to it.
- Place the pan over medium to low heat and keep on stirring the mixture.
- After about 5 to 7 minutes it will become thick and come away from the sides of the pan.
- Add cardamom powder and mix.
- It is ready when you get a thick batter consistency, much like a cake batter.
- Pour the kalakand into the prepared tray. Level it out evenly using a spoon or spatula.
- While it is still hot, sprinkle the pistachios, almonds and saffron water over it.
- Let the kalakand set in the fridge for 45 minutes.
- Cut into squares and serve.
- Add saffron in the kalakand if you want a yellow kalakand.
- I prefer to use home made paneer for this recipe as the ready made one is hard like cheese.
- Store the remaining kalakand in the fridge. Sweets made from milk and milk products get spoilt easily at room temperature.
- Line the tray with greaseproof paper or a plastic sheet. This makes it easy to pull out the set kalakand from the tray. I just rmove the whole thing from the tray and then cut into squares. Its so much easier.