September 11, 2014

Of nostalgia & adventure - A memorable Ganesh Chaturthi with "Mango Kalakand/ Aam Kalakand"

This year Ganesh Chaturthi was very special and that’s because of so many reasons. Special because it was the first one we celebrated after our wedding, hereby marking a tradition we intend to carry on for years to come. Special because we made our own idol for the occasion and had an absolute blast making it and most importantly because we also got to celebrate it with our friends & neighbors who made up for the absence of our family here with us. My desire to celebrate this at our place stemmed from the reason that this festival has always been very close to heart for my husband. Back at his place, it’s a tradition to celebrate it with fervor and invite all relatives near and dear for a yearly get together and he still cherishes those memories of laughter and frolic. So this year we ushered in Lord Ganesh to our abode. Truly, what better occasion than Ganesh Chaturthi – dedicated to the Vignaharta (destroyer of obstacles) to herald in this entire season of festivities?

Our little adventure while making the idol was such an exhilarating experience. With very modest expectations, we started off the project by mixing the clay and molding shapes and then there was truly no looking back. The urge to make it better till it looked realistic pushed me to keep at it till I got the result I wanted. You will not believe me if I tell you that it took me an hour to get the janwa right (the string around Lord Ganesha’s torso)..phew! A day to dry and then we sat to paint the idol with the brightest colors and He looked absolutely handsome J We also made him his pet rat, some ladoos on a thali and a seat for him to sit. All to make him happy! Here are some pictures of the project :)

Now with our homemade Ganesh idol all done and ready for his D-day, it was only fitting to welcome him home with equal pomp and show. So apart from the typical Maharastrian puja delicacies (varan, bhaat, puri, kala chana chi usal, batatya chi bhaji, koshimbir, chutney,  ukdiche modak (yes I tried it!) and shrikhand), I wanted to make something special for the occasion and decided to try my hand at making kalakand. I have been especially motivated since the time I recently had it at a friend’s place and it instantly brought back fond memories of me nibbling on one small piece for hours to relish every bite. This was the perfect occasion to prepare and offer it to our Ganpati as our special homemade prasad or offering. 

~Mango Kalakand~
Mango Kalakand / Aam Kalakand

Soft, rich & creamy dessert squares made of fresh cottage cheese & mango pulp sweetened with condensed milk & reduced milk powder. With generous amounts of pistachios & slivered almonds, this dessert attains it exquisite aroma from that elusive hint of saffron. 

3 C Mango Pulp
2 C Cottage Cheese (Paneer)
1 C Condensed milk (Add ¼ C more if you want a little more sweetness)
1 C Mava powder
Pinch of saffron soaked in 2 T of warm milk.
1/4 C Chopped pistachios & almonds

1/4 tsp rose water (Optional)
Pinch of salt (Optional)
1/4 tsp lime juice(Optional)
3 cardamom pods – crushed to a fine powder

1. In a pan over medium heat, reduce the mango pulp till it’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon (~20 mins). This intensifies the mango flavor.
Note: I made “fresh” mango pulp from frozen mangoes. You can use the readymade mango pulp too.
2. In the mean time, soak the saffron strands in 1 T of lukewarm milk and set aside.
3. After the pulp is thick, mix in the paneer, condensed milk, saffron soaked in milk and mava powder. Stir to mix well.
Note: I used homemade paneer with full fat milk (4C of paneer from 1 Gallon) . Bring the milk to a boil and then add in lime juice (1 lime) +yogurt mixture (2T) for a softer and fresher outcome.
4. Reduce this mixture over medium heat till it starts leaving sides of the pan (~ 15 mins). Stir regularly so that it doesn’t stick.
5. Add in the salt, lime juice, rose water and cardamom powder along with the chopped nuts. Stir well.
Note: I added in the pinch of salt & 1/4 tsp of lime juice to round out the sweetness. You can opt out of it if you prefer so.
6. Pour this mixture in a greased flat container and flatten it. Sprinkle more nuts and let it set in the refrigerator (~ 2hrs). Cut and serve.
Note: This sweet stays fresh in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

Making kalakand at home was another satisfying experience that made this celebration all the more special. It was an eye opener and a recipe that I cherish more so because it melded in traditions and happy memories from both our childhoods. Isn’t that's what great occasions are made of? A little bit of nostalgia mixed in with the right amount of adventure :-)


1 comment:

  1. First time here Jagruti. What a beautiful idol and recipe!


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