A rich, creamy dessert that’ll melt-in-your-mouth! This cardamom-spiced milk cake is the perfect treat for this festive time of year.
Kalakand, also known as milk cake, is a popular Indian dessert. It’s a sweet that I think most people prefer to buy in stores, because of how long it takes to make.
Well, I’ve come up with a shortcut kalakand recipe that doesn’t sacrifice flavor. This recipe tastes just like store-bought mithai!
What is Kalakand (milk cake)?
If you’ve never tried kalakand, it tastes kind of like a mix between a cake and soft fudge. It’s sort of like Indian tres leches. Think a soft, and moist yet still firm cake that’s slightly crumbly and melts in your mouth. I think it might be impossible for me to describe this dessert in a way that does it justice.
Kalakand is said to have originated in Alwar, a city in Rajasthan. The story is that a dessert maker left Pakistan after the Partition in 1947 and settled in Alwar, where he brought this dessert and made it popular. Different varieties of milk cakes were already popular in Punjab; it could be that kalakand was an adaptation of those other variations.
There are different varieties of milk cake. This dessert can vary in color; some are white, some are brown, and some are ombré. It all depends on the cooking method and the type of ingredients used. Some recipes use whole milk, some call for paneer, and some use condensed milk. My shortcut version calls for ricotta cheese.
Traditionally though, this dessert is made by reducing milk and sugar until it forms a crumbly, soft burfi (fudge). It normally takes forever to make. You’re supposed to watch a pot of milk boil until it reduces to basically nothing.
We are skipping that step entirely. My method requires minimal effort and little hands-on time.
How to make Kalakand in an Instant Pot:
Add ricotta cheese, sugar and water to a pot and mix well. Pressure cook.
Open the lid, add ghee, dry milk powder and freshly ground cardamom.
Pour it into a pan, garnish with pistachios and chill for 3 hours.
Slice and serve!
You should know that I’m somewhat of a kalakand expert. No one has officially bestowed that title on me, but it’s true. What makes me an expert? Well, I have decades of experience eating kalakand lol. I’ve been eating it (according to my mother, more like demanding it) since the approximate age of 3. Back then, I called it “milk mithai.” I still think that’s a nice name for this dessert.
As a teenager, I dreamt of opening my own mithai shop (I also had several other unlikely career aspirations, like being a comedian, which is hilarious because I am not funny, though I try lol). I had plans to call my mithai shop Ashley’s mithai shop (not very creative, I know).
Now, I’m a grown-up (more or less), and even though I don’t have my own mithai shop, I’m pretty sure that if I did, this kalakand would be a best-seller. Right ahead of or alongside my kaju katli, moong dal halwa, and besan burfi.
As someone who has eaten more than her fair share of kalakand over the years, I’m confident in declaring that this is the best kalakand I’ve ever had. Or at least, equally as good as the best I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
- 15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 cup sugar approx. 200 grams
- ⅓ cup water approx. 2.8 oz
- ½ cup ghee 4 oz, room temp
- 2 ½ cups dry milk powder approx. 235-250 grams
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom*
- 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
- Add the ricotta cheese, sugar, and water to the pot and mix well.
- Secure the lid, close the pressure valve, and cook for 11 minutes at high pressure. (This is a good time to grind cardamom if you don’t have some on hand).
- Quick-release pressure.
- Add ghee, milk powder, and cardamom to the pot and stir until well combined (you may want to wear a glove to hold onto the hot pot as you stir).
- Pour the mixture into a parchment-lined 8×8 pan, sprinkle chopped pistachios over top, and then gently shake the pan to help level the fudge and also to help the pistachios stick.
- Let the milk cake cool down (takes about an hour), then put it in the fridge for 3 hours to set.
- Once chilled, lift from the pan using parchment then cut into 1.5-inch x 1.5-inch squares.
- You can store this mithai in an air-tight container in the fridge for about a week.
- You can use non-fat or full-fat dry milk powder in this recipe. I have used this brand as well as this brand. I’ve also used the brand Village Farms from Wegmans. You can also find dry milk powder at Indian grocery stores as well as most grocery stores.
- If for some reason the mixture looks runny, feel free to add more milk powder or hit sauté at the end.
- Freshly ground cardamom powder is much more aromatic and flavorful than store-bought. I highly suggest grinding your own for this recipe (and for any Indian dessert recipe). Grind your own by removing the green shell and grinding the black seeds inside. I have and love this electric spice grinder if you’re looking for a recommendation.
- I prefer using raw pistachios because they’re brighter green than roasted.
- You can also decorate with rose petals if you’d like.
- Important: All of the recipes on my blog are tested using a 6 quart instant pot – I have not tested this recipe in a different sized pot. I don’t know if this recipe will work in a 3 quart or 8 quart as the surface area is different and will affect the temperature of the sugar syrup. I suggest only using a 6 quart for this recipe.