Kalakand

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Kalakand is a delectable, melt-in-the-mouth dessert whipped up in Indian homes for festivals and celebrations. A moist and flavorful milk cake, Kalakand has a nutty floral aroma and delicate grainy texture. Laced with cardamom and saffron, and dressed up in bright green pistachios, this exotic mithai always stands out amongst the finest of Indian dessert spreads.

Growing up, my father would always buy fresh Kalakand from the local Halwai (sweet shop) for festivals. My sisters and I would look forward to those times, as this sweet was a family favorite. Ever since I moved to the USA, I have missed having fresh kalakand. I have always wanted to find the perfect recipe to make this mildly sweet and moist barfi at home.

Origins  

Historically belonging to Uttar Pradesh in North India, this versatile milk-based mithai has gained universal popularity across India. Traditionally, Kalakand is made from coagulated full-fat milk and sugar. The milk is curdled to get Indian cottage cheese (paneer) and mixed with sugar. This mixture is then cooked on medium heat till all the moisture evaporates and it attains a moist and grainy-crumbly consistency. However, the traditional recipe takes hours to make, involving complex steps and multiple pots and pans.

So here is  MOC’s easy and modern take on this Indian dessert with the same authentic flavors! With this quick and simple 3 ingredient recipe, you can make heavenly Kalakand with 20 mins of hands-on cook time. I use full-fat ricotta cheese and sweetened condensed milk to make this effortless yummy burfi. The homemade Kalakand is delicious and similar to its traditional counterpart in taste, flavor, and texture.

Kalakand is a wonderful and festive dessert that makes for a perfect treat on your holiday table. I love to cut kalakand in smaller bite-sized cubes, place them in mini cupcake liners and share with my family and friends as part of the Diwali treats gift package!

I am sharing my super easy must-try recipe with you, in time for the Indian festival season and also for the upcoming holiday season.

Ingredients

This recipe uses only 3 main ingredients and a couple of optional flavoring and garnishing ingredients:

  1. Full-Fat ricotta cheese – this light and creamy cheese is a great substitute for paneer, which is used in the traditional recipe
  2. Condensed milk – makes for a perfect sweetener in this recipe and the thickness helps speed up the process
  3. Ground cardamom – known as Elaichi, cardamom seeds are ground and added to Indian desserts for a sweet heavenly aroma
  4. Saffron (optional) –  saffron adds an intense aroma, a floral flavor, and a gorgeous golden color.
  5. Pistachios (optional for nut-free) –  You can use any nuts in this recipe. I love green pistachios as they add nice color contrast to this barfi.

The best part is that you can totally skip the nuts for a nut-free option and it will still taste delish! If you are not a fan of pistachios, feel free to use any other nuts of your choice for the garnish.

Process 

Here are my simple steps to make this amazing Indian dessert: 

Step 1: Line a small baking dish or tray with 7″ x 7″ parchment paper. Set aside. Add the condensed milk and ricotta cheese to a non-stick pan. Using a silicone spatula, mix well and break any lumps. Cook on medium heat stirring frequently. Keep scraping the sides and mixing in every few minutes. In the first 5 minutes, the mixture will be very liquidy, but it will continue to thicken up. After about 20 minutes the mixture will start to separate from the sides and will come together as a thick batter. Add cardamom powder and mix well.

Step 3: Pour the batter on the parchment paper-lined dish. Using a silicone spatula, press down evenly making a 6″ X 6″ square evening out the top and sides. Garnish with chopped nuts, pressing down lightly. Allow to cool down completely, about an hour.

Step 3: After about an hour, cut the Kalakand barfi into small 1 inch cubes (around 36 square pieces)  with a silicone spatula. Traditionally the Kalakand pieces are much bigger in size, but I like to cut them into small bite-sized pieces as they are easier to eat. If you prefer the traditional size, cut it into 9 square pieces. Garnish with dried rose petals if desired and serve.

Tips

Although it is super simple to make Instant Kalakand at home, here are the tips that have helped me make perfect Kalakand for years: 

  1. Use full-fat ricotta for the best and creamiest Kalakand (also called milk cake by some)
  2. Always use good quality condensed milk brands like Eagle or Magnolia. The consistency of some of the store brands is more watery, and that can affect the texture  of the final dish 
  3. Use a non-stick pan to make this recipe for easy cleanup and perfect texture 
  4. If you cook for a longer time, the kalakand may get a more chewy, fudgy, Peda-like texture. For best results, cook just until the mix starts to come together and enjoy at room temperature  

Storing

While this Indian mithai tastes best when enjoyed fresh, it can stay good in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving. Kalakand freezes well, but again make sure to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, and serve at room temperature. 

Do you love Indian desserts? Check out some of our favorites:

  • Badam Burfi – Instant burfi with almond flour
  • Sweet Coconut Rice – EASY Instant Pot Recipe
  • Rice Kheer – Creamy rice kheer without any cream
  • Gajar Halwa – Quick carrot pudding with cardamom, saffron & nuts
  • Mango cheesecake – The best Instant Pot cheesecake
  • Rose Milk Cake – Ricotta Cheesecake with rose, cardamom & pistachios

I do hope you give this easy Indian sweet recipe a try and share your feedback with our MOC family.

Recipe

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4.92 from 34 votes

Kalakand

Instant 3-ingredient North Indian Mithai also known as milk cake
Prep Time0 mins
Cook Time22 mins
Cooling1 hr
Total Time1 hr 22 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 9
Calories: 222kcal
Author: Archana Mundhe

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 15 oz ricotta cheese full fat recommended, I like Sorrento or Calabro brands
  • 14 oz condensed milk full fat and brands like eagle, carnation or magnolia
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • pinch of saffron optional
  • 3 tablespoons pistachios thinly sliced (optional for nut free, or use nuts of your choice)

Instructions

  • Line small baking tray or dish with 7" X 7" parchment paper
  • In a wide non stick pan (10 to 11 inches wide) add ricotta cheese and condensed milk. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently for 20 to 25 mins. Keep scraping the sides frequently. In the first 5 minutes the mixture will be very liquidy and it will continue to thicken up. After about 20 minutes the mixture will start to seperate from the sides and will start to come together as a thickish batter. Add cardamom powder and mix well. For me the batter comes togther in 22 minutes, but depending on the thickness of your pan and heat level, it may take a few mins more or less. Please see notes below.
  • Pour the mix in on the parchment paper lined dish and using a silicone spatula, press down evenly making a 6" X 6" square evening out the top and sides. Allow to cool down completely, about an hour. You can cut the Kalakand into small 1 inch cubes (around 36 square pieces) or cut into bigger 2" x 2" squares ( 9 pieces) which will look more like the traditional version. I like to cut them into small bite sized pieces which are easier to eat.
  • Kalakand will stay good at room temperature for a day. It also tastes best at room tempterature. You can refrigerate for up to 5 days. Be sure to bring it to a room temperature before serving. Kalakand freezes well, but again make sure to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, and serve at room temperature. 

Video





Notes

Notes:

  1. Use full fat ricotta for the best and creamiest Kalakand (also called milk cake by some)
  2. Always use good quality condensed milk brands like Eagle, Carnation or Magnolia. The consistency of some of the store brands is more watery, and that can affect the texture  of the final dish 
  3. Use a non-stick pan to make this recipe for easy cleanup and perfect texture 
  4. If you cook for a longer time, the kalakand may get a more chewy, fudgy, Peda-like texture. For best results, cook just until the mix starts to come together and enjoy at room temperature  

Nutrition

Calories: 222kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 115mg | Potassium: 248mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 310IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 256mg | Iron: 1mg
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