Saturday, September 20, 2008

MBP: Say Cheese: Microwave Kalakand

Since the day I saw this recipe, I have been wanting to try it. But due to work and the daily grind, I was not getting the motivation to do it and eventually it just got lost in my big list of bookmarks. Then, a couple months back I saw it again here, and knew that this time I had to make it, come what may. Nothing was going to stop me now. The arrival of Ganesha and his ten day stay, gave me ample opportunity and enthusiasm to finally make this delicious Microwave Kalakand, originally posted by Sandeepa of Bong Mom's CookBook.

The recipe is so simple and the results so amazing! This recipe is a keeper. Not only did our friends enjoy this treat but so did their one year old who would not stop eating the Kalakand! Thanks Sandeepa....your Microwave Kalakand recipe was an excellent Neivedya for Ganpati and I am sure he was just as pleased as we were. :)

After making the Kalakand, I couldn't resist clicking some photos (aadat se majboor ;)) and then it struck me that this was a very good candidate for MBP: Say Cheese that is being hosted by Siri of Siri's Corner this month, and is the brainchild of Coffee of The Spice Cafe.

This recipe calls for Ricotta cheese which is a very popular fresh cheese used in Italian cuisine. After reading a little about this cheese, I realized that its not technically considered a cheese as its made from whey that is a byproduct of cheese making. But to me its still cheese and a very light one at that. It contains only around 5 % of fat per Wikipedia. More info here. Its a great substitute for Khawa or Khoya too, which is a key ingredient for a lot of the Indian Mithais like burfis and pedhas and of course, gulabjamuns.

I have not made any changes to the recipe except that I skipped the pistachios as I did not have any at hand. I just sprinkled a few strands of saffron once the Kalakand was ready. So lets "Say cheese"!

1 14 oz can of condensed milk
1 15oz jar of ricotta cheese ( i used part skim ricotta)
2-3 veldode (cardamoms)
1 microwaveable dish

Empty the can of condensed milk into the microwaveable dish. Take ricotta cheese in equal quantity as that of the condensed milk. Sandeepa gives a great idea to do this...fill the can of condensed milk with ricotta cheese to get the same quantity. Add this to the condensed milk and mix well. Now microwave the mixture for 5 minutes, making sure that it does not boil over. Then heat for another 5 minutes, checking after each minute and stirring to avoid any spillage. Cook this mixture till it reaches a grainy consistency with not a lot of moisture. One way to test if its ready is to take a spoon and if the mixture sticks to the spoon, continue to cook. If nothing sticks to the spoon and yet the mixture lumps together, you are ready to set it. This whole process took me just about 13 minutes, so its really fast. Once you have reached the right consistency, remove from the microwave and add the cardamom powder to it. Mix and then leave it to set for an hour. Garnish with chopped pistachios or saffron strands.
Cut into squares before serving and be ready to be transported to heaven!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Laal Bhoplyachi Kheer (Pumpkin Kheer)

Tis the season of change....everywhere I go and everywhere I see, people are talking about change. The atmosphere sure got me fired up and I decided to change the look of my blog! S has been urging me to do this for so long...but for some reason or the other I was uncomfortble doing it. Who likes change, right ? But no change means stagnancy. Maybe this might just give me some renewed enthusiasm ;). So last weekend, we both sat down and changed the look of the blog and I must confess that it feels really good and fresh, just like a newly painted home. I also realized that its just like painting your home...the look might change but the warm and cozy feeling of the home never goes away.

And although the major changes are done, I might keep doing minor upgrades to it. All suggestions and feedback are more than welcome!
A few days back, I had got butternut squash from the grocery store. The original plan was to make some comforting soup with it, but then S told me of the pumpkin kheer his mom makes and how he was craving for it. For me, this was a new recipe. I had never tasted pumpkin kheer or 'laal bhoplyachi kheer' as we would call it in Marathi. That day was also Nagpanchmi and I had to make something sweet anyways. Although the recipe was not very different from how we make the regular kheer as per my hubby, I still wanted to confirm it from the source :). We called my MIL early in the morning and confirmed the recipe. Sure enough, it was easy and sounded delicious! The texture and taste of the butternut squash was perfect for the kheer. Normally, we use pumpkin(laal bhopala), but any squash/pumpkin that is slightly sweeter in taste will do.

Ingredients : ( serves 2-3)
1 butternut squash (or pumpkin)
about 2 cups of milk ( i did not measure this time...but its easy to adjust)
about 1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet the squash is)
1 tbsp tup (ghee)
1 tsp veldoda pwdr (cardamom)
dry fruits (optional)

Method :
Cut the butternut squash into half and then cook the squash in the microwave for about 5-6 minutes. You can also pressure cook the squash. Once cooked and cooled a little bit, scoop out the squash. Now mash the coooked squash with the back of a spoon. Keep aside.

In a saucepan, heat the tup (ghee) and then add and saute the mashed pumkin for a few minutes. Next, add the milk to it. You can adjust the quantity of milk as per the desired consistency. Cook till it comes to a boil and then add the sugar. Stir and let it boil again. If the kheer is too thin, reduce the flame and keep boiling till the milk reduces a bit. The kheer should be a little thick in consistency for best results. Turn off the heat and then add the veldoda powder (cardamom). Let the kheer cool and then you can either chill it in the refrigerator or serve immediately.

If you are adding dry fruits like raisins and cashews, fry them in the ghee before adding the cooked squash to it. You can also add a little saffron, although I did not use it this time. Another good addition would be a little nutmeg powder.

This time, I wanted to enjoy the flavor of the squash as is without much adulteration so I only used cardamom powder. But you can definitley make it richer with your favorites! Hope you enjoy this simple yet delicious kheer. :)

Other pumkin/squash desserts :