Kalakand is one of the most sought after sweets in India along with rasgulla and gulab jamun. This incredibly delicious sweet is always a part of our celebrations especially during this festive season from Dussehra to Bhai Dooj, when we indulge in our sweet mania forgetting all our health regime.
Kalakand is believed to have originated in the late 1940s in the state of Rajasthan in India. However, it has undergone many regional variations with time. Though Kalakand specifically belongs to Rajasthan, it is hugely popular in other northern and eastern parts of India too. Since I am huge fan of kalakand, I always take special interest whenever I get to know about this sweet. As I have found, Kalakand from northern India has a rich flavour of khoya and are little dry, which are very similar to milk cake in their preparation. However, Kalakand is subtly different from a milk cake in its texture, with a little more coarse or granular feel. The Kalakand mostly available here, i.e. in the entire eastern and north eastern states of India is slightly different from the northern parts, which are little creamy and moist in taste, may be due to the use of more chhena than khoya or condensed milk in it. This variation of Kalakand is available in most of the sweet shops here. Though the key ingredients i.e. thickened milk, chhena and sugar for preparing it remains the same, the variations are largely due to the proportions of thickened milk and chhena that varies for each of these types of kalakand. Another variation of Kalakand is very popular in Jharkhand, which is creamier in texture and have been thought to have originated in the late 1950s. And I find this variant very similar to the one available here. So the creamy, moist variant that is available here might have originated from this variant with proportionately higher amounts of chhena in it compared to the condensed milk or khoya, although I don’t have any clue regarding its preparation.
Kalakand is prepared by cooking the chhena in molten khoya or thickened milk along with sugar and flavours until the milk is absorbed or soaked in the chhena to form a dense mixture, which are then set to cut out the squares of Kalakand. This soft and yummy sweet is mild to moderately sweetened, with a little coarse or grainy texture that makes it different from other chhena sweets like sondesh.
Since, I love them in just any form, I am sharing with you one of my attempts to make something different out of it. As the winter is approaching, we will often long for a coffee break to restore the wamth within and the flavour of coffee perfectly matches the season’s demand. So, I chose coffee for that exotic feel in a desi way for enjoying the richness of flavour of this ‘incredible indian sweet’. Also, Diwali and Bhai Dooj are perfect occasions to try this gorgeous sweet. So, let us have a look at the recipe below. Hope you will also love it the way I did it.
1) Milk (for chhena) / chhena (cottage cheese) or fresh paneer – 1 litre milk or 250 gms of chenna
2) Milk – 250-300 ml reduced to half (125-150 ml) by thickening
3) Coffee ( any instant coffee powder) – 1 tsp
4) Sugar – 4 to 5 tsp
5) Almonds (chopped) for garnishing – few
For preparing chhena :
1) Prepare or get ready with your chhena ( for preparation you may also refer to our previous post on kheertua ) or you may also use fresh paneer available in the market.
2) For preparation of chhena, bring the milk to boil.
3) Switch off the flame when the milk is boiled.
4) Add 1 or 2 tsp of lemon juice ( in 1:1 dilution with water ) and stir in continuously until the milk curdles. Add the lemon juice in parts and not all at once. If the milk starts curdling, no need to add more lemon juice.
4) Continue to stir the milk until it fully curdles. If the milk is not curdling anymore after stirring for sometime. Add more of your lemon juice.
( Note : – Curdling of milk depends on the milk you are using. So, there is no specified time for curdling of the milk.)
5) When the milk curdles completely, pour it on a muslin or cheesecloth placed over a bowl or container to collect the chhena discarding the whey.
6) Pour cold water over the chhena to wash away any trace of lemon juice.
7) Tie the edges of the cloth by bringing them together to make a bun.
8) Hang it or place it under heavy weight, to drain the whey completely from the chhena. It approximately take 1 to 2 hours depending on the type of milk you are using.
For preparing the kalakand :
1) Boil milk in a pan and reduce it to half by stirring in continuously over a low flame.
(Note : You may also use readymade condensed milk instead if you have no problem with heavy sugar)
2) When the milk is thickened enough, add instant coffee powder to it and mix.
3) Add sugar and mix to let the sugar melt completely.
(Note : No need to add sugar if you are using canned condensed milk as it already contains sugar).
4) Take out the chhena from the cloth in a dish, break the chhena into crumble.
(Note : Disintegrate the chhena into crumble so that no lumps are present. The texture should be grainy as shown below but should be free of any lumps. Do not mash it, to keep the grainy texture of the kalakand.)
5) Sprinkle half teaspoon of coffee powder and mix slightly just to spread the powder uniformly in the chhena.
6) Add this chhena mix to the thickened milk and cook over a low flame by stirring in continuously.
7) Cook till the mixture turns dense and just starts leaving the sides of your pan. It takes around 8 to 10 minutes to thicken the mixture.
(Note : This is the most crucial step in making kalakand ; as overcooking may turn your kalakand dry and chewy).
8) Add little more coffee powder to the mixture and mix.
9) Turn off the flame and pour the mixture on a dish or tray.
10) Spread the mix uniformly and level using a spatula or knife.
11) Cut into cubes of any size you want and garnish with chopped almonds. Let it set for an hour or two at room temperature. Do not refrigerate for setting, as your kalakand may turn little dry & tighter.
12) Your soft yummy kalakand(s) are ready to be served. You may sprinkle little coffee powder over it before serving if you like, for an extra flavour.