Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kesar Pista Badam Kalakand

Happy Deepawali! We just bid goodbye to the festival of lights and what better post to publish than a sweet recipe!

I love this festival.  And I happen to be among the few people who DON'T like bursting crackers. For me all the fun is in lighting the diyas and candles and also hogging the munchies. I don't mind sparklers, flowerpots and zameen chakkars - but that is the extent of enthusiasm towards fireworks that I can bring myself to show. Even as a kid, while my sister and cousins would be bursting crackers and rockets, I would just watch from a distance.

Deepavali literally means "row of lights". This festival finds its roots in Ramayana. Deepavali is celebrated to mark the occasion of the return of Lord Rama, his brother Lakshman and wife Sita to Ayodhya after 14 years of vanvaas (exile). It also signifies the victory of good over evil as Lord Rama, with the aid of the Vanarasena (army of monkeys), defeated Ravana and saved his wife Sita.

For us Tam Brams, Diwali starts with the "Ganga Snanam". We wake up before day break, apply sesame oil heated with some peppercorns and rice and take a bath. We wear new clothes and then starts the bursting of crackers! Oh, how can I forget the "Diwali marundu/leighiyam"? As kids, me and my sister used to absolutely abhor this weird tasting concoction that you are supposed to eat to cleanse out the stomach and avoid indigestion, considering the amount of sweets and savories that are consumed during the occasion! As an adult, I am more than happy to overlook that one tradition :), so I don't make it!

Another tradition is to distribute sweets, bhakshanams (savory snacks) and gifts to friends and relatives. The responsibility of distribution usually falls on the youngsters in the family. Many were the fights that me and my sister fought in order to divide the houses that each of us would go to give the stuff prepared by amma.

And now I have come a full circle. Coz this is the only thing that gives a feel of Deepavali here in the US for me. As the kids go to school and offices are also open, I am more than happy to get decked up in a sari/salwar kameez and visit friends in the evening to exchange greetings and goodies! No more complaints amma!

We also decorate the house with fancy multicolored light bulbs and candles and diyas. This year, apart from the lights at the window, I painted a few clay diyas that I had bought and decorated them into a rangoli form on a cardboard with acrylic colors and some sequins and beads. My kiddo joined my in the diya painting and we made a fun activity of it!
I also prepared a few sweets and savories - Ribbon Pakoda, Mullu Thenkuzhal, Methi Paara, Coconut Laddoo, Kesar Pista Badam Kalakand and Vanilla Mint Chocolate Fudge. I hope the share some of the recipes on this blog over the next few days...

But ofcourse I would like the first recipe to be that of a sweet. When I was in India this year, I borrowed up a couple of recipe books from my mom. This particular recipe is adapted from the Kenstar Microwave Oven Cook Book by Sanjeev Kapoor. But ofcourse I had to put my own spin on a simple Kalakand! The end result was this yummy moist sweet that looked like Kalakand but tasted more like Sandesh!

Preparation & Cooking: 30 minutes plus 2-3 hours for setting                      Makes: 24-25 pieces


Milk - 1 gallon
Cream Of Tartar - ½ teaspoon
Sugar - 1 & ½ cups
Cornstarch - 1 teaspoon
Cardamom (Elaichi) Powder - 2 teaspoons
Saffron Essence - 1 teaspoon
Rose Water - 2 teaspoons
Saffron - a few strands
Almonds - 2 tablespoons (finely powdered) plus 10 whole (for garnishing)
Pistachios - 10
Orange Food Color - ½ teaspoon (optional)

  1. Coarsely powder the almonds and pistachios and set aside, this will be the garnish.
  2. Microwave the milk for 10 minutes in a deep dish.
  3. Add the sugar and cream of tartar and put it back in the microwave for another 10 minutes. The milk will slowly curdle. Depending on the microwave, you might need a few minutes less or more. Keep an eye on the milk and it will be ready when the milk curdles forming a variety of cottage cheese known as chenna, leaving a watery liquid behind.
  4. Strain this chenna through a muslin cloth then pass it through a sieve. The original Kalakand recipe required that most if the the moisture be removed, but I let the chenna be a little moist. 
  5. Mix this with the cornstarch, cardamom powder, saffron strands, almond powder, saffron essence and rose water and microwave it for another 4 minutes, stirring in between after about 2 minutes. At this stage, you could mix in the food color if you choose to use it.
  6. Now, spread this out on  greased plate, garnish it with the coarsely powdered almonds and pistachios and allow it to cool and set for about a couple of hours.
  7. After the mixture has set and cooled, cut it into square/diamonds using a greased butter knife.

Dig in, distribute and spread the joy!

Sending this across to Diwali Food Fest at Anu's Healthy Kitchen


  1. The kalakand were good , the bhujiya and murku reminded me of my home. Thanks Priya for all the awsome sweets n savouries.

    1. Thank you Rekha, am glad you liked everything... I loved your pethas too :)

  2. wow, piu, very nice. would love to try it.


Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog! Feel free to drop a line and keep me motivated...