Wednesday, October 22, 2014

easy diwali mithai : kaddu ka kalakand or pumpkin kalakand recipe

My Diwali greetings to you all with this easy recipe of pumpkin kalakand. May you find more light, fight darkness successfully and lead others towards light too. Diwali brings that kind of vibes if we are open to it. And there is some mithai, some diyas and candles after a mandatory spring cleaning exercise. The woollies will be out soon and we will soon eat some chooda matar with the fresh tender green peas. Every banarasi starts dreaming of chooda matar breakfasts as soon as there is the first sign of winter.

I have been away for quite a long time, was traveling for the good part of it and then got caught up with pending work that had to be finished on priority. Thank you for writing back to me and let me know you all were missing my posts here. I shall try and write more regularly and bring the food we love. Will come back with storied from Mysore too.

I hope you would like this pumpkin kalakand. Kalakand is a soft cheesecake like dessert with granular solids of lightly curdled milk if I have to describe it, but the good thing is that kalakand can be made with many shortcut methods with very minute difference in the resulting taste and texture. Since the milk is reduced first and curdled lightly in the traditional method of making kalakand the texture is richer with the traditional method. But then we make the recipes suitable for a modern lifestyle, to be able to cook them in lesser time, make them healthier etc etc. and try and replicate the original.

This short cut kalakand recipe that also includes some good fiber and carotenes is very close to the texture of original kalakand with added taste of ripe pumpkin and a hint of nutmeg. I had made an apple kalakand (in microwave) last year and many of my friends and readers had made that at home within a couple of days. And I remember how I kept getting requests regarding how the recipe can be adjusted to stove top method and if one could replace the milk powder with something else.

In the last year I have made that apple kalakand several times both in microwave and a heavy bottomed pan and recently I taught that recipe to the volunteer Chefs at ISKON Mysore as well. Even they wanted an alternate recipe of such an easy and tasty mithai so I decided to work on another kalakand recipe that is fairly easy and takes a little more time than the apple kalakand.

Using grated pumpkin was on my mind for some time and I had to do it. I did two trials and found that precooking the grated pumpkin works better. I microwaved a cup of grated pumpkin for 2 minutes before using it for kalakand and used freshly made paneer for it. Minimal sugar to sweeten it as always.

Total time that this recipe takes would be around 30 minutes of grating pumpkin, making paneer (chhena) and cooking again and about an hour of refrigeration to set the kalakand properly.

(for 16 regular sized kalakand)

grated pumpkin (use the orange fleshed ripe pumpkin) 1 cup packed
whole milk (6%) 1 kilo
fresh cream 3 tbsp
lime juice 2 tbsp diluted with 2 tbsp water
nutmeg powder 1 pinch
sugar to taste. I used 4 tbsp
chopped pistachios to garnish (or any other nuts)


Microwave the grated pumpkin for 2 minutes or cook them till they get limp and soft but not mushy. Keep side.

Heat the milk in a large pot till a thin film of fat starts forming on top. Wait till the point where the milk is just about to boil. Add the lime juice 1 tsp at a time at this point and keep stirring the milk. Stop adding the lime juice as soon as you see curdled milk and clear whey.

Line a strainer with muslin and keep it over another pot to collect whey. Pour the milk into the strainer and let the whey separate (the whey can be used to knead bread dough). Collect the milk solids and crumble it using a potato masher nicely.

Now place this crumbled paneer (or chhena) into a pan along with the half cooked grated pumpkin and sugar and cook for about 5 minutes on medium flame. It would release some water and start drying up. Add the fresh cream and nutmeg powder together and cook till it is all dry but moist.

Empty the contents on a greased tray or plate and flatten the mixture using a flat knife. Make the edges smooth and shape it so you can cut uniform pieces. Or just use a suitable square dish to spread the mix. Sprinkle chopped nuts and press them so they stick well.

Refrigerate this plate for an hour or so. Cut pieces and serve as required. This kalakand stays well in the fridge for 4 days easily. Keep it in an airtight container lined with butter paper.

The texture of this kalakand is crumbly as it should be but it binds well and doesn't break into your hands. If it breaks while lifting it means it needs some more cooking so cook it again and let it dry a bit more and let it set again.

You can add any spices of your choice to this kalakand as pumpkin takes spices really well in desserts. You would be surprised at how well it works with this kalakand. A mild hint of nutmeg and a deep rich taste of pumpkin with taste and texture of a regular kalakand. That's how this pumpkin kalakand tastes.

Make this diwali healthier with home made mithai I must add. We never buy any mithai during festivals as there is a lot of spurious stuff added to them during season of high demand.

Ever wonder how much milk production do we do in the country not to disrupt regular milk supply and still convert the world into a big mithai shop during festivals?

Monday, September 22, 2014

everyday subzi : lobiya wala keema with shrimp paste

Some curries are experimental but become a favourite from the first time they are cooked. This lobiya wala keema is one of those recipes that I cooked on a whim one day and have repeated a few times already. I do cook keema curry with added vegetables quite a lot and many keema recipes on this blog would not disappoint you in this regard but this time I wanted to get some extra flavours and I did a trick.

I added some shrimp paste (home made) to this curry and it took this keema and lobiya curry to another level altogether. I am waiting when to repeat more curries with keema and some or the other vegetables. Of course with added shrimp paste :-)

I make my own shrimp paste and have cooked it earlier with long beans. A freshly made shrimp paste recipe (sambal belacan) is there on the healthfood blog. This time I just made a paste with ginger and garlic and used the whole paste in this curry. I know I will be repeating this way of using dry shrimps for sure.

(4 servings with rotis and raita)

chopped lobiya (in 1 cm bits) 250 gm
finely chopped onions 100 gm
mutton keema (mince) 200 gm
fresh tomato paste 100 gm (3/4 cup)
chopped ginger 2 tsp
chopped garlic 2 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
red chilly powder 1 tsp or to taste
everyday curry powder 1 tbsp
special garam masala powder 1/2 tsp
(or a powder of cinnamon, green and black cardamoms and cloves)
dry shrimps 1 tbsp
salt to taste
mustard oil 1-2 tbsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
tejpatta 2

procedure (takes about 40 minutes total)

Make a paste of garlic, ginger and shrimp and keep aside.

Heat oil in a deep thick base kadhai and tip in the cumin seeds and tejpatta. Add the chopped onions and fry till pinkish brown.

Now add the shrimp paste and the chopped lobiya both. Add salt and powdered spices as well and keep stirring to mix well as the mixture cooks and gets aromatic. It takes about 5-7 minutes.

Now add the keema and keep stirring to break the keema and cook till it starts releasing fat.

Add the fresh tomato paste and cook for about 5 minutes more, stirring all the while.

Now add a cup of water and cover the kadhai. Let the curry simmer on low flame for about 25 minutes. Serve hot.

There is no need to garnish this curry with any herbs as the aroma of shrimp paste cooked with the spicy gravy id really something you wouldn't want to mask. But add a few springs of coriander greens if you like. Some chopped green chillies and minced or julienne ginger will be good if you want the curry to be hot, especially if you are having it with khameeri roti.

The flavours are very meaty, very rich umami hints and the lobiya somehow seems to add to the flavours too. I think I would like this keema curry with cauliflower and may be with cabbage as well. I have more dry shrimps as I had ordered loads of ti from Anjali Koli of Annaparabramha. And I intend to use it well.

Let me try and let you know. Or you try and tell me what way you liked it.