Oh my god I cannot believe it is Diwali already. Time has flown by literally and I am not prepared for one of the biggest festivals in the Hindu calendar. Not that I am very religious but it is good to hold on to your roots and follow a few traditions.
I have been busy and caught up with work that I have not made a single sweet or savoury dishes that are made back home during Diwali and I feel really sad and homesick. Infact I feel so homesick that I had a little cry yesterday when no one was around. I miss all the festivities and the crackling electricity in the air during Diwali. I miss the frenzy of cooking sweets, cleaning the house, visiting relatives with gifts.
I grew up in a very big house and I used to help my mother clean the entire house up. It was back breaking work and used to take us days but it was all so exciting. We used to shop for new clothes or buy new furniture for the house. Light the whole house with beautiful diyas and burst some crackers. My grandfather used to give us money to buy crackers and then I and my brother used to divide all the crackers in 6 bags, 1 for each of us for all 3 days. Obviously I used to get the non scary crackers and it was so exciting.
As we went into our teens better sense prevailed and we stopped polluting the environment with crackers and just soaked in the essence of the festivities.
Now I am so far away and it does not feel like Diwali. Living a rented apartment and having full time job sometimes restricts the kind of happiness that one can spread on a beautiful day like today. But today morning I decided I will atleast make something to usher in this newyear and goddess lakshmi in my house. So before I left for work I made a quick and simple dessert – Kalakand.
It took me literally took less than 15 minutes to make it. I then left it to set all day so I could cut into beautiful pieces and tempt the goddess with this humble offering to be a regular visitor in my house. I have taken this recipe from http://tanu-triedntasted.blogspot.com.au/a very beautiful blog and I was very happy with this beautiful dessert which I modified a tad bit.
Here is the recipe: (Cooking time 15 minutes, makes 10 pieces)
500 gms Ricotta Cheese or Paneer (I used Ricotta off the shelf but feel that Paneer would be better)
1 tin Sweetened condensed Milk (I used semi skimmed)
1 ½ tsp fresh Cardamom powder
1 Cup Milk (I did not use it but the original recipe calls for it if you use Paneer)
Slivered Almonds/ Pistachios and some Saffron for decoration
In a non stick pan add the Ricotta cheese or crumbled Paneer and let it cook on slow flame for a few minutes. If you are using the kind of Ricotta Cheese that I used you will notice that it will start loosing whey.
Open the can of Condensed milk and add it to the Cheese stirring gently on the slow flame and let it cook for 10 minutes. Keep stirring as you go else the Cheese will burn.
Add the Cardamom powder and let cook for further 5 minutes till it is slightly browned.
At this point I had noticed that there was a bit of excess whey in the pan, so I strained some off leaving a little to help set the Kalakand. Lay it in a dish/pan and press gently in a layer that is not too thin. Sprinkle some nuts and Saffron liberally and leave it in the fridge to set for a few hours before you cut it into square/diamond shape very gently before you serve.
If the Kalakand has not set or crumbles you can put a portion in a beautiful glass and serve it crumbled. Top it up with some Almonds/Pistachios and it is delicious as well. Here is wishing everyone a very happy Diwali.