Sunday, October 22, 2006

Kalakhand - My Deepavali Special :-)

Dear Foodies,

Kalakhand

Hope all of you had a wonderful Deepavali. I enjoyed the music concert I mentioned in the previous post. I managed to get Sudha Ragunathan's autograph and also a few photographs with her. It was just great listening to her mellifluous voice for more than 3 1/2 hours !! I am amazed how she could keep singing for such a long time without feeling any strain. Plain talking for more than an hour makes my throat go sore !! Well, I dont think I should be comparing myself with her in the first place..!! haha

I also got to fire crackers for Deepavali at the Hindu temple in Cincinnati, with my friends here . Our first time after coming to the US, so we were all happy happy happy :D

Recipe for the Kalakhand will follow soon, for now all I can say is it was really really delicious. The taste was authentic, just like the ones we get at the Mithai shops in India. It being my first time, I dint have high expectations and so I was pleasantly surprised when it was done :-)

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Kalakhand
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For Deepavali, I wanted to make some kind of milk sweet but was bored of the usual payasam. I had seen a few Kalakhand recipes for the JFI - Milk event and for some odd reason when I was deciding about the Deepavali special dish the first one to come to my mind was Kalakhand, when I asked a friend for suggestions, he came up with the same thing too, and so it was decided that I would make Kalakhand. Thats when the search for a good recipe started. I saw 3 different methods: one using ricotta cheese, the other using milk powder and condensed milk and the traditional ones using whole milk.

I have never used ricotta cheese before and so was hesitant to use it now, the main thing stopping me was...We dont get ricotta cheese in India so there should be a method which skips it. So I was looking for recipes that started with milk and ended with kalakhand :-) I read a few recipes which did this, the method was simple. Separate half the quantity of milk you are using and reduce the other to half. Then add them to together and reduce further, add sugar and additional flavorings, decorate with nuts. Now that looked simple and authentic too. The only differences in the whole milk recipes were in the method of separating. A few used citric acid and few used tartar (heard of it only in toothpaste ads !!).

Well, I dint have either of these, but had lots of lime juice. Lime juice, I knew for sure would help separate/split the milk, but there was soon a anti-climax. I poured half a gallon of whole milk into a huge vessel and set it to boil. Once it started to raise, I added a spoon of lime juice and waited for it to split. 1sec...2sec...3sec...nothing happened...2nd spoon of lime juice...1..2..3..4..countdown again...nothing happens...this process continued and I had added 5 spoons of lime juice with no hint of splitting from the milk !! I was totally confused...sometimes I badly crave for a hot cup of tea and end up with a cup of split milk and today I was trying HARD to split it but it wouldnt budge !!! I was also scared to add more lime juice as I dint want a lime n lemony Kalakhand !! :-( As a desperate attempt I also added 2 teaspoons of vinegar but to no avail !!

That was when I decided to trick the milk, a drop of lime juice in a cup of milk was successful in separating it and so I divided the milk into 2 smaller portions and added 1 spoon of lime juice in each and Yayyyyyyy it split...I guess it was the first time I was happy that the milk split !! So I would advice you guys to use citric acid if available for this recipe, it might be a more efficient milk-separator :-)

Going by the glossy pieces in the pictures you might think that this sweet uses a lot of ghee, but believe me, I did not add even a drop of ghee. Its just magic with plain MILK :-) The pistachios can be added raw unlike cashews or raisins which need to be toasted in ghee.

The whole process of making this sweet took about 1 1/2 hrs, so do make sure you have a good company of friends to share the stirring of the milk !! :D But it was fun making it and all of us just loved the Kalakhand, it was simply superb, perfect store bought taste. I would surely recommend all of you to try it out.



Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon : Whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups : Sugar
  • 1/2 cup : Condensed milk
  • 4-5 nos : Cardamom/Elaichi, powdered
  • 10-15 nos : Pistachios, sliced
  • 3-4 drops: Vanilla essence
  • Citric acid/lime juice to split the milk

Procedure:
  1. Boil half a gallon of milk in a vessel, once it come to a boil add the acid to split the milk. Use of a sieve to drain the water and reserve the solids/paneer. The paneer does not have to be kneaded. A little water left in it is okay too. ( I read a recipe that did not filter the water, but that could make the process even longer and the water needs to vaporize)
  2. In another vessel heat the other half gallon on milk and reduce it to a little more than 1/2 its volume. Keep stirring every 3-5 mins to avoid any burnt layers. Be sure to use a clean vessel and spoon as we don't want this half to split :D. This could take about 45 mins.
  3. Once the milk gets thick add the paneer, sugar, condensed milk, half the sliced pista and the vanilla essence. This is the crucial stage, stir more frequently or you could end up with burnt layers and also to get the sugar incorporated into the mixture. (This semi-solid mixture tastes great too :-p, and keep in mind that even if it looks like it needs lil more sugar at this stage don't add any, as it thickens it will get a bit sweeter)
  4. Keep stirring till you can judge that the kalakhand will become firm on cooling. I scooped a small spoon of the mixture onto a plate and put it into the freezer for a minute. If it feels a little hard the Kalakhand is ready !
  5. Transfer all the Kalakhand into a flat dish and even out. Sprinkle the rest of the pistachios and place in the freezer for 30mins.
  6. Once it sets and is firm you can cut the Kalakhand into the desired shape and sizes.
A few chunks of the Kalakhand are now off to VKN's My Dhaba for the :


My Notes:
  • To get a thicker texture you can increase the quantity of milk that you reserve for splitting. That will give more solid pieces when you bite into the kalakhand.
  • Condensed milk was something I added just because I had a can of it lying in the fridge. I guess you could skip that and increase the amount of sugar a bit.
  • If you want to reduce the amount of milk stirring time, I think you could microwave it for around 10 mins or so and then move it to the stove top.
  • Fortunately there was no trace of all that lime juice and vinegar I used. I wouldn't want to advice you guys about the method of splitting the milk. Follow your very own tried and tested method there :-)

19 thoughts:

Pavani said...

Hi Priya,
Wish you and your family a very happy Diwali.

mitr_bayarea said...

Priya,

That is so cool that you got to listen to Sudha's music concert. She is coming to Bay Area next weekend, can't wait to go.

mitr_bayarea said...

You have been tagged by me..check my blog for questions..:)

KrishnaArjuna said...

Priya
Belated diwali wishes to you and your family.. sounds like you had a great time
Those laddus are beautiful..a visual treat indeed

Hema said...

Hi Priya,
There was a kutcheri here at Jax, Florida by Sangeeta Sivakumar on Diwali day and my MIL had a nice time there. I do not have an ear for carnatic music, but it is wonderful to see the enthusiasm of people at these concerts. BTW your kalakand looks great. I recently made some with ricotta cheese. Waiting for your recipe.

Foodie's Hope said...

Hope had a great Diwali, Priya! Sounds like it !! Enjoy!!

Kalakand looks delicious!

Shankari said...

Your Kalakand looks very authentic. Cant wait for the recipe priya

Hema said...

Hi Priya,
You did the hard work and it definitely looks like you get to reap the rewards. There are 2-3 ways of splitting the milk -using Lime juice, citric acid/vinegar or curd. Lime juice tends to give a little bit of bitter taste if used in excess, but both vinegar and lime juice yield softer paneer than curd(if you intend to cube it). Curd on the other hand yields lot more paneer for the milk used with no difference in taste. It takes longer to split the milk with curd. I usually use a tsp of vineger, half a key lime and a cup of curd. Let me stop here before my comment gets bigger than your post. Love your recipe.

Shankari said...

It is a painstaking recipe, but the result really really sweet. Loved the looks of it, this goes into my MUST try recipe!

Krithika said...

Such a fantastic Kalakand recipe. Girl... you have some patience. Looks delicious. Thanks for sharing

Priya said...



Thank you all for dropping by.

All you guys do give this one a try, probably in a much smaller quantity atleast, you'll surely love it :-)

Hema, I thought of curd too, but I had just the store bough yoghurt and wasnt sure of its strength. Lime juice and vinegar I used, but was scared that they would add their flavor. Luckily there was no trace of them in the final dish :-)Will try your proportions next time.

Nandita said...

Wow Priya, that was SOME effort! I was smiling at your line 'When desperate for a cup of tea, the milk splits' haha, i have experienced that frustration a few times myself.
Kalakhand almost seems like a teratti paal mixed with paneer..am sure your efforts bore sweet fruits...hope you had a fun Diwali

Menu Today said...

Hi Priya,
You made your kalakhand in traditional way. Thanks for the recipe.

Kay said...

Wow! :)

I don't have sweet tooth, but this is one dessert that I'd kill for. Whenever any of my friends goto India, they ask me what I'd want from there. My answer invariably will be 'Kalakand'. Thanks priya, for sharing this recipe and posting such a wonderful visual treat. Didnt have the slightest clue that it's pretty simple to make.

Priya said...


@ Nandita: Kalakhand is similar to teratti pal..but do try it out, there is a very pleasant difference in taste that I cannot pin-point in words :-)
My attempts at splitting the milk did make me smile too :-D

@ Menutoday: Do try it out sometime MT, its very yummy and satisfying.

@ Kay: Even I was surprised I could make Kalakhand that tasted just like the store bought ones rite at home. Do try it out and you will never have to import it again, you might actually get export orders :D.
You could try using the microwave to reduce the milk, that would save you a lot of time especially now that you have lil Meera to spend time with.

Viji said...

Hi Priya,
Wowww..I love this sweet.I love it in a semi solid state.I will try this for sure.Thanks for sharing:-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Priya,
Could you please give me the milk quantity in litter please.

With thanks,
Ramoni

Anonymous said...

Hi Priya,
Could you please give me the milk quantity in litter please.

With thanks,
Ramoni

Priya said...

Ramoni, 1 gallon would be about ~ 3.8 ltr :-) Let me know if you try this out, and keep visiting.

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