Of nostalgia & adventure - A memorable Ganesh Chaturthi with "Mango Kalakand/ Aam Kalakand"

This year Ganesh Chaturthi was very special and that’s because of so many reasons. Special because it was the first one we celebrated after our wedding, hereby marking a tradition we intend to carry on for years to come. Special because we made our own idol for the occasion and had an absolute blast making it and most importantly because we also got to celebrate it with our friends neighbors who made up for the absence of our family here with us. My desire to celebrate this at our place stemmed from the reason that this festival has always been very close to heart for my husband. Back at his place, it’s a tradition to celebrate it with fervor and invite all relatives near and dear for a yearly get together and he still cherishes those memories of laughter and frolic. So this year we ushered in Lord Ganesh to our abode. Truly, what better occasion than Ganesh Chaturthi – dedicated to the Vignaharta (destroyer of obstacles) to herald in this entire season of festivities?Our little adventure while making the idol was such an exhilarating experience. With very modest expectations, we started off the project by mixing the clay and molding shapes and then there was truly no looking back. The urge to make it better till it looked realistic pushed me to keep at it till I got the result I wanted. You will not believe me if I tell you that it took me an hour to get the janwa right (the string around Lord Ganesha’s torso)..phew! A day to dry and then we sat to paint the idol with the brightest colors and He looked absolutely handsome J We also made him his pet rat, some ladoos on a thali and a seat for him to sit. All to make him happy! Here are some pictures of the project :)Now with our homemade Ganesh idol all done and ready for his D-day, it was only fitting to welcome him home with equal pomp and show. So apart from the typical Maharastrian puja delicacies (varan, bhaat, puri, kala chana chi usal, batatya chi bhaji, koshimbir, chutney, ukdiche modak (yes I tried it!) and shrikhand), I wanted to make something special for the occasion and decided to try my hand at making kalakand. I have been especially motivated since the time I recently had it at a friend’s place and it instantly brought back fond memories of me nibbling on one small piece for hours to relish every bite. This was the perfect occasion to prepare and offer it to our Ganpati as our special homemade prasad or offering.Soft, rich creamy dessert squares made of fresh cottage cheese mango pulp sweetened with condensed milk reduced milk powder. With generous amounts of pistachios slivered almonds, this dessert attains it exquisite aroma from that elusive hint of saffron.Note: This sweet stays fresh in the refrigerator for about 1 week.Making kalakand at home was another satisfying experience that made this celebration all the more special. It was an eye opener and a recipe that I cherish more so because it melded in traditions and happy memories from both our childhoods. Isn’t that's what great occasions are made of? A little bit of nostalgia mixed in with the right amount of adventure :-)Love,J

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  •   3 Cups - Mango Pulp 
  •   2 Cups - Cottage Cheese (Paneer) 
  •   1 Cup - Condensed milk (Add ¼ C more for more sweetness) 
  •   1 Cup - Mava powder 
  •   Pinch of 2 - Saffron soaked in T of warm milk
  •   1/4 Cup - Chopped pistachios & almonds
  •   1/4 tsp - Rose water (Optional) 
  •   Pinch - Salt (Optional)
  •   1/4 tsp - Lime juice(Optional)
  •   3 pods - Cardamom crushed to a fine powder