Kalakand, a famous Indian sweet that has milk as its main ingredient is made in Indian subcontinent during different festivals and celebrations such as Holi, Diwali, Navratri and Eid. A huge pan is kept on a flame and large amount of milk is boiled stirring it continuously till it is thickened with sugar and dry fruits. From the traditional recipe of kalakand there are many variations based on the flavor that is liked.
While reading the first paragraph you might think it is a tough task, but here is a secret I have used in this recipe: I did not use any milk to start this recipe! Shocked? Here is another one, I used Ricotta Cheese to get the same texture as the traditional kalakand. I had never used ricotta cheese till some time back when a friend suggested it is a magical ingredient! And over the past few months I have realized it's potential too. From savory dishes like spinach corn ricotta puffs to sweets like malai peda, instant rasmalai and kesar modak, this ingredient has now become my pantry favorite. Not only is this ingredient easy to work with, it also cooks very fast and goes well with all dry fruits, saffron and rose. Ricotta cheese has reduced my effort of standing next to the stove and stirring the milk for an hour to a mere task!
I did not want the kalakand that we make with just dry fruits and sugar. So I decided to flavor it with rose; using rose syrup, gulkand and fresh rose petals in it. If you do not have any of the ingredients, do not panic. If you do not have gulkand, just replace it with rose syrup. However, the fresh rose is used to get the pink color of the kalakand. If you do not get the same color from the roses you use, add a pinch of pink food color to get a bright colored kalakand. I have used some pieces of silver varak on the top, which is absolutely optional. And here I used just pistachios, but replace it with dry fruit of your choice. Make a big lot of this sweet as it is so yummy, you will need a big one!!
Ricotta cheese 2 cups
Sweetened Condensed Milk 3/4 cup
Milk 1/4 cup
Rose Syrup 1 tbsp
Fresh Rose 8-10 petals
Gulkand 2 tbsp
Pistachios 1/4 cup
Edible Varak (optional)
In a heavy bottom pan add the ricotta cheese and set it on medium flame. Cook the cheese for at least 25-30 minutes, till all the water evaporates and you are left with a crumbly cheese that does not have water content.
Now add all the other ingredients except pistachios and varak to the cheese and mix well. Let the mixture cook on medium flame for about 30 minutes or until it becomes thick. Turn down the heat and transfer to a plate that is lined with some ghee. Press to an even layer and press in the chopped pistachios. Apply the silver varak if desired. Let it cool and then make squares. Enjoy!
For more sweets and savory recipes using Ricotta Cheese, see these:
Looking for Ganpati sweet dishes/ Prasad recipes? Check this list of TWENTY amazing Indian sweets for Ganpati Festival!