15 Minute Kalakand Sweet (Ricotta Cheese or Paneer)

Make moist kalakand at home using either ricotta cheese (15 minutes) or paneer (25 minutes).  This popular Indian sweet is milk based and only requires a few pantry ingredients.

Three pieces of kalakand with pistachio topping.

Make moist kalakand at home using either ricotta cheese (15 minutes) or paneer (25 minutes).  This popular Indian sweet is milk based and only requires a few pantry ingredients.

Ricotta cheese kalakand or paneer kalakand is a moist, juicy, and softly set milk cake with a delicate grainy texture. It is lightly flavored with cardamom and you can optionally add saffron strands or rose water.

Kalakand is a popular Indian dessert made primarily from milk and sugar.  Kalakand tastes sweet and milky, often enhanced with cardamom or saffron for additional aromatic notes. It has a rich and creamy texture with a slightly grainy consistency.

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Kalakand is traditionally made by reducing milk for a long time.  These two recipes offer a quicker way:

  1.  Using condensed milk to cut down on cook time
  2. Using store-bought ricotta cheese or paneer so you don’t have to make chenna and save more time
Three pieces of kalakand on a white ornate plate.

It is an easy vegetarian and gluten-free Indian sweet to make like Coconut Ladoos or, Mango Burfi or Milk Barfi.  The ricotta cheese version takes only 15 minutes of active time while the paneer version takes only 25 minutes.  Both are delicious!

Why You Will Love This Recipe

Quick and easy Indian sweet | Either way you make it (ricotta cheese or paneer) it does not require a ton of active time

Few ingredients | You only need 5-6 ingredients dependent on the version and flavorings added

Make ahead sweet | Milk sweets are popular for gift-giving during the festive season and for Diwali.

Ingredients

There are two sections for ingredients: 1 – Ricotta Cheese Kalakand and 2 – Paneer Kalakand

Below are ingredient notes. Full ingredients and directions are in the printable recipe card at the end of the post. 

Ricotta Cheese Kalakand Ingredients 

Ricotta cheese kalakand ingredients.

The two main ingredients are ricotta cheese and condensed milk.  Then, you will add cardamom powder and ghee.  Saffron strands, rose water, and nuts are optional.

Ricotta Cheese: Ricotta cheese serves as an excellent substitute for the paneer used in traditional Kalakand recipes. Its creamy and slightly grainy texture provides the essential base for this sweet. Ricotta cheese is readily available and eliminates the need for curdling milk.

Condensed Milk: Just like in the traditional recipe, condensed milk is a crucial ingredient in quick Kalakand. Its rich sweetness not only simplifies the process but also contributes to the desirable consistency and flavor of the sweet.

Paneer Kalakand Ingredients

Paneer kalakand ingredients.

Whole Milk: Whole milk is the foundation of traditional kalakand. In this paneer version of kalakand, it is slowly simmered to add juiciness to the paneer and to thicken, resulting in a thickened paneer milk mixture. This forms the base of kalakand, providing its creamy and luscious consistency.

Condensed Milk: Condensed milk serves as a convenient addition to traditional kalakand recipes. Its sweetness and richness help enhance the flavor and texture of the sweet. The concentrated nature of condensed milk helps in achieving the desired consistency more efficiently.

Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese): Paneer is a key ingredient in kalakand, contributing to its texture and structure. The paneer is grated and added to the milk mixture. It helps bind the sweet and provides a slightly grainy, yet smooth mouthfeel.

If you want to make fresh paneer at home, you make it easily in an Instant Pot

Salt, cardamom powder, saffron strands, pistachios, and ghee in small plates.

Ghee (Clarified Butter): Ghee is used to provide binding, provide rich flavor to the sweet, and also grease the pan or tray in which the kalakand is set.  

Cardamom: Ground cardamom, a popular Indian spice, with its aromatic and slightly citrusy notes, is a traditional spice added to kalakand. It elevates the flavor, adding a delightful warmth that beautifully contrasts with the sweetness of the dish.

Saffron Strands: Saffron strands are often used to infuse the kalakand with their vibrant color and delicate aroma. When soaked in a bit of warm milk, saffron imparts a golden hue that visually enhances the sweetness and provides an additional layer of sensory delight.

Variations: Some people like to add milk powder or mawa to kalakand. I like to leave them out to make the taste distinct from milk barfi which also uses these ingredients and leaves the texture a little bit grainy.  

Ricotta Cheese Kalakand (15 Minutes)  

This option is like an instant kalakand, which comes together quickly.

Cook ricotta and condensed milk: Place a wide nonstick pot on the stove on turn on the gas to medium heat. Mix whole-milk ricotta and condensed milk in the pot.

Ricotta cheese and condensed milk in a pot.
Add ricotta cheese and condensed milk to a pot.
Mixed ricotta cheese with condensed milk.
Stir together.

Stir and keep an eye: Stir intermittently for about 15-18 minutes.  You will notice the mixture thicken over this period.  It will begin to come together and pull away at the sides. There will still be a little moisture left in the pan. It will look grainy.

Simmering on medium heat.
Mixture begins to thicken.
You'll notice if you run a spoon through, it takes some time for it to come back together.

See how it still has a bit of juicyness? That is key to retain some moisture in the sweet.

Thickened ricotta cheese mixture.
Mixture will thicken, pull away from pot but still be slightly wet.

Add flavorings: Once the mixture is cooked, added cardamom powder and saffron strands.  Mix and turn off the gas.  Remove the pot from the stove.

Cardamom and saffron strands added to the pot.
Add cardamom and saffron strands. If you want to add rose water, you can add it now.
Ricotta cheese kalakand mixture with cardamom powder and saffron strands.
Mix to combine.

Set: Pour mixture into a ghee-greased tray and pat down to even out.  Sprinkle chopped nuts on top and lightly press down to help them stick.

You can put a little bit of ghee on the bottom of a steel cup or on a spatula to help even out the top and smooth it over.

Patting kalakand mixture into a mithai tray.
Chopped pistachios placed on tray of kalakand.

Cool: Let ricotta cheese kalakand cool completely to room temperature.  Then, cover with plastic wrap or foil and place in the fridge to set for at least two hours.

Cut and serve: Remove from fridge.  Cut pieces carefully and serve.  To help remove the pieces from the tray you can place the metal tray on very low heat for a few seconds to help melt the ghee which will in turn make it very easy for the pieces to lift out.

Six pieces of ricotta cheese kalakand on a plate.

Paneer Kalakand (About 25 Minutes)

Prepare paneer: Shred paneer with a fine grater.

Grater and a block of paneer.
Use a fine grater.
Bowl of shredded paneer.

Paneer and whole milk: Add paneer and full-fat milk to a pan on medium heat. Mix and let come to a simmer. 

Paneer and whole milk in a pot.
Add paneer and whole milk to a pot on medium heat.
Mix to combine paneer and whole milk in apot.
Mix to combine.

Ghee: After about 5 minutes, add ghee and mix. Continue to let it simmer and mix intermittently for about another 10 minutes.

Ghee added to kalakand.
Add ghee to pot.

Condensed milk and salt: Add condensed milk and salt to the pot and mix. For another about 10 minutes, cook the mixture on low heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning, until the mixture thickens and starts to leave the sides of the pan. There will still be a little moisture left in the pan. It will look grainy.

Condensed milk added.
Add condensed milk and continue to cook.
Thickened kalakand mixture.
Mixture will thicken and look grainy .

Flavorings: Last, the powdered cardamom and saffron strands are mixed in. Then, turn off the stove and remove the pot from the burner.

Thickened mixture of kalakand.
Mixture will be grainy, juicy, but not sopping wet. Add cardamom powder.
Saffron strands added.
Add saffron strands. If you want to add rose water instead you can do so now.

Cool and Set: Pour the cooked kalakand mixture into a ghee-greased plate and spread it evenly. Sprinkle chopped nuts and press down lightly to help them stick. Let it come to room temperature. Then, cover with plastic wrap or foil and place in the fridge for at least two hours to set.

Cooked kalakand in  a pot.
Set paneer kalakand mixture in a tray.
Place mixture in tray. Top with chopped nuts and slightly press down to help them stick.

Cut and serve: Once set, cut the Kalakand into squares or diamond shapes. Cut pieces carefully and serve. To help remove the pieces from the tray you can place the metal tray on very low heat for a few seconds to help melt the ghee which will in turn make it very easy for the pieces to lift out.

Cut pieces of kalakand in a tray.
I cut into three rows by four rows for a total of 12 pieces. You can make them smaller.

Mithai Tray

Mithai tray greased with ghee.

I used a mithai tray which is a rectangular dish measuring X by X.  These are used to make a standard size of Indian sweets.  If you don’t have one simply use an 8×8 or other sized baking tray you have.  But, don’t use the entire surface area.  Just push the mixture with a silicon spatula to the height and shape that works for you. 

Tips

➜ Watch the stove temperature: Keep it on medium or down to low-medium.  If it’s too high it may burn and part of this sweet is the simmering of milk to develop the flavor.

➜ Use a deep, wide bottom, non-stick pan:  This will help reduce the sticking of milk.  A wide bottom ensures quicker cooking.  A deep pan or pot is to prevent the simmering hot milk from splashing on you.

➜ Keep an eye:  Since kalakand is more moist than usual Indian sweets, when it is done it is juicy but not super wet.  If cooked too long it will be dry.  

➜ Ricotta cheese: Use whole milk ricotta cheese.  Make sure it’s not salted.

➜ Paneer: I used the Gopi brand available in the US.  It comes in a 396g block.  I have not tried malai paneer yet, but it should also work.  It just may not be as grainy because of its soft texture.

Ricotta cheese kalakand on a plate.

FAQs

➜  Storing

Store kalakand in the fridge since it is a milk-based sweet in airtight container.  Best consumed within 3-4 days.

 ➜ Kalakand is too hard

This may happen because the heat was on too high or it was cooked for too long.  You can try adding a little milk or brushing the tops of the set kalakand with milk to try to add moisture. 

➜  Other flavors

There are many other flavor variations like pineapple, chocolate kalakand, and mango kalakand.

Difference between burfi and kalakand

While these two Indian desserts look similar kalakand is not the same as milk burfi.  Kalakand is moister, sets softer, and has a danedar or slightly grainy texture.   Milk burfi is more firmly set and can likened to creamy milk fudge.

Three pieces of kalakand with pistachio topping.

15 Minute Kalakand Sweet (Ricotta Cheese or Paneer)

Shilpa Joshi
Make moist kalakand at home using either ricotta cheese (15 minutes) or paneer (25 minutes).  This popular Indian sweet is milk based and only requires a few pantry ingredients.
5 from 2 votes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Indian
Servings 12 pieces
Calories 168 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 non-stick pot with a wide bottom

Ingredients
  

Option 1: Ricotta Cheese Kalakand

  • 425 g whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 397 g sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • ¼ tsp saffron strands
  • 2 tbsp pistachios (or almonds, cashews) chopped
  • 1/16 tsp salt

Option 2: Paneer Kalakand

  • 2 cups milk 500 ml
  • 400 grams paneer finely grated
  • 200 ml condensed milk
  • 1/16 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • ¼ tsp saffron strands
  • tsp ghee 1 tsp goes in the kalakand mix then ½ tsp ghee for greasing tray with ghee for setting kalakand
  • 2 tbsp pistachios (or almonds, cashews) chopped

Instructions
 

Ricotta Cheese Kalakand (15 Minutes)

  • Place a wide non stick pot on stove on turn on gas to medium heat. Mix ricotta cheese and condensed milk in pot.
  • Stir intermittently for about 15-18 minutes. You will notice the mixture thicken over this time period. It will begin to come together and pull away at the sides. There will still be a little moisture left in the pan. It will look grainy.
  • Once mixture is cooked, added cardamom powder and saffron strands. Mix and turn off gas. Remove pot from stove.
  • Pour mixture into a ghee greased tray and pat down to even out. Sprinkle chopped nuts on top and lightly press down to help them stick.
  • Let ricotta cheese kalakand cool completely to room temperature. Then, cover with plastic wrap or foil and place in fridge to set atleast two hours.
  • Remove from fridge. Cut pieces carefully and serve. To help remove the pieces from the tray you can place the metal tray on very low heat for a few seconds to help melt the ghee which will in turn make it very easy for the pieces to lift out.

Paneer Kalakand

  • Prepare paneer: Shred paneer with a fine grater.
  • Paneer and whole milk: Add paneer and whole milk to a pan on medium heat. Mix and let come to a simmer.
  • Ghee: After about 5 minutes, add ghee and mix. Continue to let it simmer and mix intermittently for about another 10 minutes.
  • Condensed milk and salt: Add condensed milk and salt to the pot and mix. For another about 10 minutes, cook the mixture on low heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning, until the mixture thickens and starts to leave the sides of the pan. There will still be a little moisture left in the pan. It will look grainy.
  • Flavorings: Last, the cardamom powder and saffron strands are mixed in. Then, turn off the stove and remove pot from burner.
  • Cool and Set: Pour the cooked kalakand mixture into a ghee greased plate and spread it evenly. Sprinkle chopped nuts and press down lightly to help them stick. Let it come to room temperature. Then, cover with plastic wrap or foil and place in fridge for at least two hours to set.
  • Cut and serve: Once set, cut the Kalakand into squares or diamond shapes. Cut pieces carefully and serve. To help remove the pieces from the tray you can place the metal tray on very low heat for a few seconds to help melt the ghee which will in turn make it very easy for the pieces to lift out.

Notes

Handle kalakand with care when cutting.  It is a moist, slightly crumbly Indian sweet.  
Keep the stove on medium. The slow and gradual cooking is what gives Kalakand its unique texture and flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 168kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 7gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 84mgPotassium: 161mgFiber: 0.02gSugar: 18gVitamin A: 246IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 168mgIron: 0.2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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5 Comments

    1. Hey there – I added some pics on IG and uploaded a video to this post as well in case you wanted to see!

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