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Kalakand is a sweet milk and cheese dessert popular in northern and eastern India. It is made with paneer, milk, and sugar that is topped with pistachio nuts. This dish is usually served cut into individual servings that are typically shaped like squares. It is cold, soft, and sweet, and the squares are jelly-like with a slight crunch from the nuts on top. Though basic kalakand is made only of cheese and sweetened milk, some varieties of this dish contain fruits or vegetables with flavors that blend well with this milky dessert.
To make kalakand, a soft cheese called paneer is added to boiling milk, then sweetened and cooked until it begins to thicken. The hot mixture is poured onto a greased flat surface, where it is allowed to cool into a texture similar to gelatin. Once the dish is cooked, it is sliced into servings and garnished with slivers or slices of pistachio. Kalakand can also be garnished with sliced almonds.
Making kalakand at home begins with making homemade paneer, a popular fresh cheese made from milk and lemon juice. Paneer is used in both sweet and savory recipes in Indian cuisine. It can be cooked or served cold with a dish, or it can be eaten fried as a snack.
To make the paneer, the milk is carefully heated and stirred until it is boiling. This should be done gradually so none of the milk burns. When the milk is at a moderate boil, a small amount of lemon juice is mixed into a cup of hot water and added to the boiling milk. This causes the milk to curdle into a substance like cottage cheese, which is rinsed to clear the lemon juice, then drained of excess water using some cheesecloth.
The best type of milk for paneer has a high fat content. Most cooks use whole milk to make paneer for kalakand. Low-fat milk can also be used, but it is not as good as whole milk for making paneer. Using milk with lower fat will result in a lower yield of paneer from the same amount of milk. Paneer can also be purchased at the store, but store-bought versions generally contain more fat than homemade paneer.
Some chefs substitute ricotta cheese for the paneer when making a fast, nontraditional version kalakand. Some modified easy kalakand recipes are prepared in the microwave rather than on the stove. When cooking the milk for this dish, adding a small amount of water to the cooking container before boiling the milk can help reduce the chances of burning the milk. When cooking the paneer in the sweetened milk, condensed milk can be used in place of whole milk to make the dish creamier and to help it thicken more quickly.