With a full-time job, long commutes and an active 3 year old I usually have a tough time trying to squeeze in an elaborate recipe and that’s when I resort to wonder ingredients like Ricotta cheese. I believe this ingredient goes so well in the preparation of Indian milk-based sweets, with its great taste and texture, maybe making it even better than a recipe created from scratch. Few years ago for Diwali, I made an Indian sweet known as Rasmalai using Ricotta cheese and ever since then I have been a fan of this ingredient. This year I was unable to make any sweets well in advance for Diwali. I know, I am a slacker but hey, better late than never, right? So here is a nice Kalakand recipe that I made for my family on the day of Diwali. It is made using ricotta cheese and 4 other ingredients and all you have to do is to mix, stir and let it set :)
Since my father used to work for the Indian Air Force, I lived the early part of my childhood in Air Force officers quarters where we had families and friends hailing from all parts of India. We always had a blast during the Diwali season when my parents used to take us kids to each of our friends' houses where we would indulge on a wide variety of sweets and snacks. My sister and I used to have a gala time bursting the Patakhas (fire crackers), swirling the Phooljhadis, lighting up the Anaars, shooting up the Rockets, jumping across the Chakri and gobbling up loads of Mithai (Indian sweets). I really miss India especially during the festival time and really cherish all my childhood memories :)
Yields - One 8 inch square tray
30 Oz Can (850gms) - Ricotta Cheese or Soft Paneer (Refer Notes)
1- 14Oz can - Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 Cup - Whole Almonds
3/4 Tsp – Cardamom powder (Refer Notes)
For greasing the dish – Ghee (Clarified Butter) - How to make Ghee?
For garnish – Pistachio and Saffron (optional)
- Grease an 8 by 8 inch dish with ghee and keep it aside
- Take a non-stick pan and add ricotta cheese, condensed milk, and cardamom powder; stir well until the mixture thickens. Keep stirring to avoid the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan. It took me approximately 35-40 minutes to get the texture right.
- Add the almonds to a food processor or blender to powder it.
- Add this powder to the ricotta mixture
- Take the pan off the heat and transfer the mixture to the greased pan; spread mixture with a spatula.
- Garnish with chopped pistachios.
- Let it cool to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge for 1 hour.
- Cut into desired shapes and serve/ enjoy
- Stir the mixture regularly to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan
- You can use substitute Soft Paneer for Ricotta Cheese. If you are using paneer, pulse it in the food processor before you start cooking it
- This is a milk-based sweet and therefore requires refrigeration
- When the hot mixture starts bubbling, stir with caution to avoid it splashes
- You can add 1 tablespoon of ghee to the mixture for a richer flavor
- I used skimmed Ricotta cheese for a lighter version.
- I make my own Cardamom powder by just grinding the whole cardamom with the skin so its a little less concentrated than the one that is made with the seed only. So please start with 1/4 Tsp and adjust spice according to your taste.