Saturday, 15 November 2014
I like to think that I'm on top of the latest food trends, even if I'm not that actually interested in many of them (donut burger anyone?). However Indian sweets cooked in a microwave, have somehow passed me by, despite being around for ages apparently. I first came across this method for making kalakand, an Indian milk-based sweet, on the rather excellent Bong Mom's Cookbook blog. I have to say that I was a little sceptical about the whole thing, but this was one of the simplest Indian sweets I have ever made. Admittedly, I am usually an Ambala girl rather than a stirring milk for ages person, but this is a recipe that came nowhere near testing my limited patience.
Kalakand are a little bit like burfi or Bengali sandesh, but with a softer texture and are more obviously milky; sort of like cottage cheese combined with fudge, though that makes them sound horrible (which they aren't). These kalakand were not too heavy or sweet, and were rich with cardamom. I followed the Bong Mom recipe pretty accurately, except that I didn't bother with the chocolate topping and just used chopped pistachios and almonds instead. I also added the crushed seeds from around 4 or 5 cardamom pods to the milk mix. Here are the ingredients with UK measurements.
Recipe (enough for 20 or so pieces)
500g ricotta cheese
1 x 397g tin, sweetened condensed milk
Seeds from 4-5 cardamom pods, crushed
Generous handful of almonds and pistachios, chopped
Firstly you'll need a suitable dish that can go in the microwave, and is relatively shallow, so your kalakand aren't too thick. I have a 1000 watt microwave, and after mixing all the ingredients except the nuts, I cooked the kalakand for five minutes at full power, followed by another five minutes, stirring well in between. If it looks like it's going to boil over at any point, stop microwaving and stir again. Then microwave in one minute bursts, until the mixture thickens, but is still a little moist on top. This is likely to take another five to seven minutes, so it will have been in the microwave for 15 to 17 minutes in total. This is obviously going to vary depending on the type of microwave you have. Once the kalakand is firm (but not totally dried out), sprinkle the nuts on top and press down slightly. Let the dish cool a bit and then chill in the fridge overnight. Take the kalakand out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to eat them, so they come up to room temperature, slice into bite size pieces, transfer onto a jazzy serving dish, and tuck in. Ideal with a nice cup of tea.