Happy Vishu!! Vishu dina Ashamsakal...to all my readers. Hope each and every one of you have a prosperous, happy and healthy year ahead.
Thanks for all the input on the template. I have reverted to the old template for now while I work on getting the new one customized to my liking.It feels odd to go back and forth between templates now, but since Blogger has made that part easy, it was just a matter of one click. Now let me see if I can get the new template to look so streamlined.
Last year Vishu fell on a Sunday and I had time to celebrate it with a nadan meal. Hence now when I look back at it, there is a memory made. This year, It falls on a working day so the same level of excitement is missing. Still, anybody visiting my blog should have a visual feast, right? I know I should have a true Keralite dish today of all days, but other preoccupations have been keeping me busy and away from the kitchen. So though I don't have any sadya laid out, there is Kalakand for you to sweeten your tooth on.
Don't you notice that "happy memories" are what how or what we make of an otherwise ordinary day? Birthdays, festivals, anniversaries..all are just days till we take the pains to do something special, maybe cook something,maybe call friends over or maybe even eat out. And isn't it so natural that these memories are indelibly tinged with food? What we ate, where, who made it, how we ate it, did we like it or not..the details may change but the memories for me definitely are all about the place and the food.
My associations with Kalakand are more with Diwali than Vishu, when all our neighbors brought over a plate of delicacies. My mother used to separate them on the basis of their demand in the house and invariably the kalakands, the gulab jamuns and the burfis were the first to go. Some other nondescript sweets would languish unwanted just as the popular ones were fought over. Of these my favorite was the kalakand. Kalakand has a semi-crunchy, incredibly soft and crumbly texture and is really white in color. It's one of the really time intensive Bengali sweets that I really wouldn't be making, if I wasn't out of the country.
This is a microwave version of Kalakand, very easily made with local ingredients. Some enterprising immigrant adapted the recipe for kalakand with ricotta cheese to make this pleasing sweet many years ago and according to the web legends, this recipe has been around for 20 years or more!!
My friend A introduced me to it just last year and now when I searched, there were so many recipes similar to this everywhere. So I am guessing I am late in learning how to make it, and though it is only somewhat near the taste of a real kalakand, it satisfies my sweet urge instantly. Did I mention it is made in a microwave..no long hours of stirring and cooking?:)) No milk getting stuck and burnt and you prying it off. This sweet tastes like a cross between the snow white kalakand and the brown "palgova" that I used to get in the Co-operative milk store in Palayam in Calicut. So if are familiar with either, you will like this.
So Happu Vishu and if you are on you way home to no feast, you could still try making this sweet.
You Will Need:
Powdered milk- 4 tablespoon
1 Tin(14 ounces) Ricotta cheese (whole milk)
Butter- 2 tablespoon
Condensed Milk-1 small can
Cardamom - 5 crushed into powder, discard skin
Almond -2-3 tablespoon chopped up
Pistachios-2-3 tablespoon chopped up
1. Soften the butter and mix it in with the ricotta cheese, condensed milk and dry milk powder in a microwave safe glass square dish. Use a whisk to smoothen out the lumps and blend it well. Try not to be tempted to lick the condensed milk can clean.(yum!) You might cut your finger on the edge!!
2. Set the microwave for 40% heat or level 4. (Check your microwave manual on how to do it if you still have the manual.) On this setting on the microwave, cook for 10 minutes. Open, stir well, take a taste test..(yum!!) It will still taste like condensed milk but richer.
3.Put it back in for another 5 minutes at the same 40% setting. Open, stir and put it in for 5 minutes at 60% setting. Open, and by now you get the picture...stir again and taste. Now it will take on the flavor of peda or palgova..milk sweets. Add the powdered cardamom and stir it in.
4. Now heat it at 75% for two minutes. You have almost reached the end so go slow and keep checking to see if it is turning brown. It can get burnt very fast now so I prefer to keep it slow and check after every minute. Heat it on full heat for another 1 or 2 minutes till it looks golden brown and its ready. You can cook it a bit longer if you want a more crustier texture to it.As the microwave power and time varies, it may take you a couple of trial and errors before you will get the optimal time taken to get the mix to a stage where the milk solids are starting to come together.
Sprinkle the top with more crushed up almonds and pistachios. Place it the refrigerator to cool. When it has cooled and become firm to the touch, you could cut into easily into any shape and size you like. Stays fresh in the refrigerator for a week or so.
Since this is a Semi-Bengali Dish, I hope its ok if I sent it over RCI-Bengal, hosted by Sandeepa.