Nolen Gur Kalakand | Milk Dessert with Date Palm Jaggery

Nolen Gur or Date Palm Jaggery is a name synonymous to a lot of people who hail from the Eastern part of India. Available fresh only during the winter months, as the winter sets in, earthen pots are fitted to date palm trees where incisions are made, a tapper attached to it in order to collect the sap. This sap is then boiled on low heat till it thickens resulting in this delicious ambrosial Nolen Gur or Date Palm Jaggery. To say that this sweetener takes any milk dessert to next level is an understatement . You have to try it to believe it . It also has very many health benefits , so much so that ace nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar calls it “a feast for sore eyes, rusty gut and cramped calf muscles.” With its high iron and magnesium levels it also helps regulate the haemoglobin and nervous system. And to me Nolen Gur Kalakand is one of the best ways to enjoy this gift of nature.

Each time I make a trip to India in the winter months I bring back a few jars of this deliciousness and freeze it. Then I continue to use it through the year (not so much during peak summers as Nolen Gur has strong warming properties) for various desserts especially the milk based ones like kheer. And because I had a lot of Gur on my hand this time I decided to make Nolen Gur Kalakand. Now, I grew up in Eastern India and we were spoilt for choices when it came to good Mithai (Indian desserts), especially the Bengali Mithais like Rasgullas and Kalakand. I can confidently say I have never tasted any better anywhere in India.

But now that we are in Hong Kong, you can very well imagine our predicament each time we try to find good tasting mithai. It is just impossible to find the good milk based ones especially. After searching high and low, I gave up and started to make my own. So far, Rasgullas and Kalakand are my favourite things to make at home. And I make them both from scratch, no condensed milk or store bought khoya, all the good homemade stuff .

It is labour intensive and time consuming but not difficult at all. One just needs to take note of the little things like the ones mentioned below and everything turns out just fine. While making rasguallas involves making fresh chena or cottage cheese , kalakand is a tad more tedious as one needs to make khoya (reduced, thickened milk)as well. It is a time consuming process for sure but then the results are worth it and much better than using milk powder or condensed milk. And as I always maintain, good things take time :))

So, here area few tips to make the perfect Nolen Gur Kalakand :

  1. Use full fat milk for making both khoya and chena. There are no two ways about it. Skim milk will just not work
  2. To make good chena, once the milk comes to boil, turn off heat and let it sit for a minute or two before adding vinegar or lime. This results in good yield too
  3. Wash the chena very well with clean drinking water to take away the sour smell and taste of vinegar or lime, whichever you use to curdle milk; you do not want sour smelling kalakand
  4. Drain the chena very well for at least two-three hours so that no moisture remains . I usually drain it in the fridge overnight placing it inside a muslin which in turn is placed in a strainer above a bowl. Moist chena makes soggy kalakand
  5. Go easy on the chena while kneading, we do not want very smooth texture for kalaknd unlike rasguallas , hence knead with light hands
  6. Making khoya is a time consuming process but it is also important you stir constantly so it doesn’t stick to the pan
  7. Once you mix all ingredients together , set it in a pan and refrigerate for a couple of hours before consuming

So, lets get cooking. There are three main steps into making Nolen Gur Kalakand:

  1. Making chena/ cottage cheese
  2. Making khoya/ reduced thickened milk
  3. Bringing it together

Making Chena

  1. Bring 1.5 litres of milk to boil; once the milk is boiling turn off the heat and let it sit for 2-3 minutes
  2. Add 2 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar and give it a stir ; milk will start to curdle
  3. Strain the whey out through a muslin placed over a strainer as shown in the picture above
  4. Give chena a nice rinse with 10 cups of water making sure no sour smell of lime or vinegar remains
  5. Drain well for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge to take away all the excess moisture
  6. Once chena has drained well, add finely chopped Nolen Gur and mix gently and refrigerate

Making Khoya

  1. Bring 1.5 liters of milk to boil; once the milk starts to boil , reduce the flame and stir continuously until it reduces to a thick semi-solid mass
  2. Add powdered cardamom powder and saffron while the milk is reducing
  3. Transfer to another bowl and bring to room temperature
  4. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes

 

Bringing it together

  1. Gentle mix the khoya(already mixed with jaggery) and chena together
  2. Grease a plate or square cake pan and transfer the mixture to it
  3. Garnish with chopped almonds and pistachios
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and cut out small barfis/squares and enjoy chilled or warm
Nolen Gur Kalakand | Milk Dessert with Date Palm Jaggery

Prep Time: 8 hours

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 9 hours

Yield: 100

Serving Size: 12 -16 pieces

Ingredients

  • Full fat milk- 3 litres, divided into half
  • Lime juice or vinegar - 2 tbsp
  • Nolen gur (date palm jaggery)- 3/4 cup or as per taste
  • Cardamom powder-1.5 tsp
  • Saffron- 6-8 strands
  • Chopped almonds and pistachios- 2 tbsp

Instructions

    Making Chena
  1. Bring 1.5 litres of milk to boil; once the milk is boiling turn off the heat and let it sit for 2-3 minutes
  2. Add 2 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar and give it a stir ; milk will start to curdle
  3. Strain the whey out through a muslin placed over a strainer as shown in the picture above
  4. Give chena a nice rinse with 10 cups of water making sure there is no sour smell of lime or vinegar anymore
  5. Drain well for a couple of hours or overnight in the fridge to take away all the excess moisture
  6. Once chena has drained well, add finely chopped Nolen Gur and mix gently and refrigerate
  7. Making Khoya
  8. Bring 1.5 liters of milk to boil; once the milk starts to boil , reduce the flame and stir continuously until it reduces to a thick semi-solid mass
  9. Add powdered cardamom powder and saffron while the milk is reducing
  10. Transfer to another bowl and bring to room temperature
  11. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes
https://onewholesomemeal.com/nolen-gur-kalakand-milk-dessert-with-date-palm-jaggery/

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