(Indian Milk Cheese Fudge)
It seems that right after the partition of India a 'Halwai' (Indian sweet chef) named Baba Thakur Das who had migrated from Pakistan to Alwar, Rajasthan in India had started his day with experimentation with milk and having added lemon juice to the milk he was fascinated with the resultant cheese and legend has it that he uttered the famous Sentecne 'Arey ye to kala hai' (This is art) which led to the creation of a magnificent sweet dish, Kalakand a kind of Indian Milk Cheese Fudge. Freshly homemade cottage cheese is cooked with reduced milk till it reaches an extremely thick consistency which is milky, cheesy and completely lip smacking.
Now Baba Thakur's descendants say with great pride that recreating the original magic of the Kalakand produced at their store is impossible due to the water and the soil around Alwar which I believe to a certain extent but then again you can still make a gorgeous Kalakand which might not be as good as the ones created at Alwar but with a bit of patience you can create some lip smacking gorgeous dessert.
Before I give the recipe let me emphasize on the fact that certain desserts cannot be made easy by cutting down on time and effort else you shall simply not get the proper taste and flavour. The internet is filled with recipes which uses packaged condensed milk and a short cut method which wouldn't simply give you a superior taste. Believe me I speak from experience. A bit of hard work is worth the effort. The entire process takes about 2 hour 15 minutes to make and another 1 hour to 2 hours for setting.
Makes 10 large sized Kalakand :-
2 litre full fat milk and yes it must be full fat
1 tbsp to 2 tbsp vinegar diluted with 2 tbsp water
5 to 6 tbsp sugar (please adjust the sweetness as per your taste)
3 green cardamom
2 tbsp blanched halved pistachios
2 tbsp ghee
Simply start of by taking 1.2 litre of the milk and add 1 tsp ghee to it. (The ghee helps in keeping the reduced milk smooth)
Start reducing it. Take the remaining milk and bring to a roaring boil in another pan and then lower heat and add the diluted vinegar and when the cheese forms in 2 minutes. You should have white masses floating in an olive green whey switch off gas once the entire milk is well curdled and then cover it and leave it for 5 minutes. Gather the cheese in a cheesecloth and drain it of its water. After 10 minutes squeeze out the excess water and crumble the cheese as finely as possible.
Meanwhile keep stirring the other pot of milk which you are reducing to avoid scorching the bottom. Once it gets reduced to half its original content add the crumbled cheese and crushed cardamom seeds along with the sugar.
The best way to add sugar as per taste is adding it little by little and checking the taste.
Now keep reducing the mixture of cheese and milk together stirring it from time to time and when it gets reduced to a mass where you see bubbles all over keep stirring the mixture continuously from this point on.
Here is an useful tip. At this point transfer it to a non-stick pan and use a masher to mash the content continuously . Non-stick pans reduces the chances of scorching. Once the mass is dried up add the remaining ghee saving a bit for greasing the plate on which you would set it and mix well .
Transfer to the greased plate and make a rectangular block and stud it with blanched halved pistachios and leave it to set at room temperature for 1 hour to 2 hours . Never ever set it in the refrigerator which dries out the Kalakand. Cut squares and enjoy this delightful dessert.
- You must use full fat milk else the taste will be compromised upon
- The leftover whey used to cook curries gives it a full bodied flavour and when used to knead chapati or make bread renders it extra soft
- Use the pistachios on the Kalakand while its warm so that it remaisn studded once the Kalakand sets the nuts won't remain intact on it.
- Enjoy a bit of warm Kalakand as suggested by the creator's descendants. It tastes amazing when served warm.
- Using the masher ensures that the cottage cheese is evenly distributed and does not form any big lumps anywhere. In case you don't have a masher use the back of a big ladle to use it for the mashing effect.
- For storing it , do use an air-tight container and then put it in the refrigerator. I would personally suggest eating it as fresh as possible but in case you are storing ti the air-tight container helps in retaining the moisture.
Source of information
This is part of Kolkata Food Blogger's ongoing event Deepavali Festival of Lights with Sweets and Savouries