Celebrate this festive season with ‘mithai’ that can be made with locally available ingredients and take very little effort and time.
Diwali is the one time in the year that we can excuse ourselves for over-indulging in sweets and ghee-enriched goodies. Traditional ‘mithai’ is time-consuming to make and can be an inconvenience, especially if you have plenty to take care of this festive season. However, with the help of a few easily-available supermarket ingredients, you could make sweets in under 30 minutes. Sure, nothing can replace the taste of sweets made by traditional ‘halwai’, but more time saved means more time with your family this festive season!
Here are a couple of recipes to make this Diwali more festive:
(Kalakand is a rich milk cake)
350 grams ricotta cheese (I used Galbani ricotta, available at stores in Switzerland)
250 grams sweetened condensed milk (Available as ‘Kondensmilch’ in Swiss stores, make sure you have the ‘gezuckert’ version which has added sugar)
1 tablespoon rose water (available at an Indian stores or other ethnic stores)
1/2 cup crushed pistachios
1/2 cup slivered almonds
Dried rose petals (optional)
1 drop of pink food colouring (I used gel food colour)
2 tablespoons milk powder (Milk powder is sold as ‘Magermilchpulver’ in local Swiss stores)
In a non-stick pan, on low-medium heat, add the ricotta cheese and condensed milk, stirring it gently using a rubber spatula.
Continue heating until the ricotta releases all its moisture and starts to thicken, and begins to form a thick mass. This should take around 12 minutes.
Now add 2 tablespoons of milk powder and stir again, cooking the mixture for a further 5 minutes.
The mixture should resemble more of a mass by now, and less of a paste.
Add the rose water, food colour and turn off the heat.
Turn out this mixture onto a greased plate or pan.
Add the nuts and rose petals if any, and press down on the mixture gently.
The kalakand will set as it cools.
Once cooled, you can cut it into squares, using a knife greased in ghee. I got 12 pieces out of this recipe.
Refrigerate if not consuming within 24 hours.
(Badam peda is a rich almond and milk fudge, shaped like a disc)
50 grams (or 1/3 cup) skinned almonds
30 grams (or 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
A few strands of saffron
3 tablespoons milk (mildly warm)
60 grams (or 1/2 cup) milk powder
A pinch of cardamom powder
2 teaspoons ghee + a little extra to shape the pedas
Soak the almonds in warm water for 10 minutes to soften them.
Soak the saffron in the warm milk for 10-15 minutes.
Add the almonds and sugar in the jar of a fine grinder, and grind until the almonds release their oils and becomes a paste with the sugar.
Now add the saffron-milk into the jar and blend until it becomes a smooth paste.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the paste along with the milk powder, ghee and cardamom powder.
Keep stirring it together on low-medium heat.
The paste will come together and start to come together like a mass. It took me five minutes of heating on low-medium heat.
Turn off the heat and let this mixture cool.
Grease your palms with some ghee and form mini-discs with the mixture.
You could add saffron and bits of almond as a garnish as well.
I gave the pedas a pattern using a cookie cutter, you could leave them plain as well.
Store them in a box and refrigerate if not consuming within 24 hours.
Text and pictures by Shinta Simon