Kalakand With Cottage Cheese
EVENT: SHHH COOKING SECRETLY
THEME: DIWALI DHAMAKA
RECIPE: KALAKAND, WITH COTTAGE CHEESE
Kalakand, with cottage cheese turns out as good as the one with paneer. Moist, soft, delectable barfi, perfect for Diwali. And the sweet treat comes together within 20-25 minutes. It is allowed to set for 2-3 hours and it is ready to be enjoyed with friends and family.
CAN I MAKE IT AHEAD?
Yes you can. Make sure you store it in an airtight container and leave it in the fridge. I promise you it stays moist for over a week.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COTTAGE CHEESE AND PANEER?
While in India we often call paneer as cottage cheese in English, it is not nearly the same. While paneer consistency can depend on how long it is pressed or hung for the whey to drain out, cottage cheese contains a fair amount of liquid.
Also cottage cheese may contain some salt while paneer does not.
However, both are made in the same way. Hot milk is curdled by adding lemon or vinegar.
WHY DID I USE COTTAGE CHEESE?
For a very long time, I’ve wanted to use it to prepare an Indian sweet. The opportunity arose with the Diwali Dhamaka theme. I’ve used artisan type 2% cottage cheese which means that the curd pieces were not only larger but it contains a bit of cream.
I wanted the cottage cheese to be creamy and simply pressed the large curd pieces with a fork to break them up a bit. Hubby liked the bite the cottage cheese added.
DID THE SALT IN COTTAGE CHEESE BOTHER ME?
Not at all. Anyway, I have a habit of adding a generous pinch of salt whenever I can to sweets, desserts that I make. It simply helps to balance the taste.
CAN I REPLACE COTTAGE CHEESE IN THIS RECIPE?
By all means you can. Replace it with crumbled paneer or ricotta cheese. Paneer and ricotta cheese will cut down the cooking time by about 5 -10 minutes.
IS KALAKAND AND MILK CAKE THE SAME?
Nowadays both are interchangeable. Many say both are the same. However, the traditional method of making milk cake, maw mishri or qalaqand as it is called was so different many years ago.
HISTORY ABOUT KALAKAND
It is believed that the pioneer of the traditional Alwar ka mawa or Alwar Milk Cake was Baba Thakur Das. Alwar, at the foothills of the Aravalli Ranges, Rajasthan was much greener than other surrounding areas and a milk rich area. Baba Thakur Dasji came to India from Pakistan during the partition. He was a halwai (sweet maker) in Pakistan and was sent to Alwar. He made the famous Punjabi sweet doodha barfi.
Fortunately for us, one day while the milk was boiling it curdled. Baba Thakur Dasji allowed it to thicken and filled the thickened sweet in a mould. Afterwards, when it was opened, it emerged with a delicious brown centre. When people asked Babaji what it was, he said, ‘ yehi to kala hai’, meaning that is the skill. In conclusion, from that time onward the sweet was called Kalakand.”
Traditionally, full fat milk was boiled with alum till it was reduced to a solid mass. However, this took hours to prepare and was hard work. But, these days kalakand is made with paneer, reducing the cooking time considerably.
Also the typical brown centre is not present in the quick method of making kalakand.
A BIT ABOUT THE GROUP:
In brief, every month a new theme is chosen by members. Furthermore, the participants are paired up. In turn, they give each other 2 secret ingredients to use in their recipe which is prepared fitting the theme.
As soon as their dish is ready, the photo is shared on our Facebook group. Afterwards, the others try and guess the secret ingredients. Towards the end of the month the recipe is shared on the group. Furthermore, this way members get to know each other and interact with each other.
THIS MONTH’S THEME
This Month’s Theme, DIWALI DHAMAKA is what we call the Admins Theme. Renu who blogs at Cook With Renu and I manage this group. For the theme Renu has prepared versatile Easy Milk Powder Chocolate Ladoo. One can add any flavouring of their choice to this basic milk powder ladoo recipe.
This month I have the opportunity to pair up with Jayashree who blogs at Evergreen Dishes. I really wish I had my sev maker with me so that I could try out her Palak Sev Recipe. However, have book marked it. I explained to her that the present place I’m staying at doesn’t have any Indian Grocery Store near by and also I don’t feel comfortable deep frying. So based on that she suggested that I use saffron and cardamom. Immediately I thought of making kalakand, which by the way is my daughter’s all time favourite.
In fact, Jayashree indicated that she may want to make a sweet dish. Accordingly, I suggested that she uses ghee and jaggery. With those two ingredients she has prepared a different, delish Date Payasam.
SOME MORE DIWALI RECIPES:
INGREDIENTS REQUIRED FOR KALAKAND, WITH COTTAGE CHEESE
Cottage Cheese – preferably 2% or 4% fat ones.
Sweetened Condensed Milk – 1 can or about 300ml.
Milk Powder – any. I used full fat milk powder. It is also known as dried milk.
Ghee – clarified butter. If you don’t get ghee then use unsalted butter.
Nuts – chopped, of your choice to add on top. I have used almonds and pistachios.
Cardamom Powder – add according to your taste.
Saffron – to add some to the kalakand and a few strands on top.
Edible Rose Petals – optional.
CHECK OUT THE STEP BY STEP VIDEO
KALAKAND, WITH COTTAGE CHEESE
- 500 g 2%-4% cottage cheese
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk 300ml
- 3 tbsp milk powder
- 2 tbsp chopped almonds and pistachios
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- ⅛ tsp saffron
- 1 tbsp ghee
- Grease a small tray or steel plate with little ghee and keep on the side till required. You can line it with parchment paper if you wish.
- Using a fork or a masher, break up the big pieces of cottage cheese.
- Add cottage cheese, milk powder and sweetened condensed milk to a thick based saucepan.
- Put the saucepan on medium heat and allow the mixture to become hot.
- As soon as it becomes hot, stir if frequently so that it does not stick and burn at the bottom of the pan.
- Keep stirring the mixture frequently till it becomes thick.
- Add ghee and mix. Keep stirring all the time when it becomes thick. This takes about 20 -25 minutes.
- Add cardamom powder and mix. Keep stirring the mixture till it comes away from the pan.
- Add saffron and mix. Kalakand mixture does not form into a ball like normal barfi.
- When you see that the mixture is coming away from the pan and has become thick, kalakand is ready.
- Add the kalakand mixture to the greased tray. It should be at least 1 inch thick. With a spatula, smoothen the top.
- Garnish the top with the chopped nuts, rose petals and a few saffron strands. Press down the garnish gently with a spatula or spoon.
- Allow the kalakand to set for at least 2-3 hours. I allowed it to set in the fridge.
- Cut the kalakand into the desired size using a sharp knife. You will get 10-14 pieces depending on the size.
- Enjoy chilled Kalakand with friends and family.
- Kalakand stays fresh in the fridge for a week. Store in an airtight container.
- Any left overs must be stored in the fridge.
- Replace the cottage cheese with crumbled paneer or ricotta cheese.
- Add nuts of your choice.
- Add cardamom powder according to your taste.
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