Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin carving

My son and his 1st pumpkin 2012

Winnie the Pooh pumpkin lit up

Halloween is once again upon us!

In St. John's this year, pumpkins have sold out early, and are quite in demand.  In the past few days, radio stations have offered pumpkins as prizes in contests.  Hopefully you have your pumpkins.  Here are some little facts about pumpkins.

1) Pumpkins are considered botanically to be fruit because the pumpkin itself is the only seed bearing part of the plant, which comes from the flower.

2) Pumpkins belong to the squash family.

3) Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, copper, magnesium and protein.

4) Pumpkin is full of fibre and can be eaten to help alleviate digestive issues such as constipation and diarrhea.

5) If you carve a pumpkin, it can be preserved for a few days longer by rubbing petroleum jelly over the exposed flesh.

6) Carving a pumpkin is similar to watermelon carving; you can trace any pattern or image onto a pumpkin and etch it out using Thai carving knives or an exacto knife.  You do not have to cut all the way through in order to have light shine through from the inside.  For step by step instructions on how to carve watermelon (or use the same technique for pumpkin) please see my blog entry on watermelon carving. 

Happy Halloween!!

Doraemon pumpkin carved, 2013

Doraemon pumpkin lit up

My wife is a huge fan of the Japanese cartoon Doraemon!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kalakand (milk burfi)

I have a recent request to make an Asian dessert, and so I decided to make Kalakand, an Indian sweet which is similar to burfi.  Burfi is one of my mother in law's favorite desserts, introduced to her by close friends from Delhi years ago and so I decided to try it out and give some to her as a treat.

 Kalakand, like burfi is made from mostly from milk solids and sugar.  The difference is in the way the milk solids are taken from the milk.  In Kalakand, the fats in whole milk are solidified using lemon or lime juice, making a basic cheese (paneer).  In burfi, the fats in whole milk are solidified by boiling the milk for a long time, reducing the liquid until only the solids are left (khoya).

I thought for trying it out the first time, the best method to get milk solids was through curdling the milk, since it was less time consuming and easier to achieve.  It is so similar, that in many recipes online, it is used interchangeably with burfi, so why not make kalakand?



1 litre of whole milk

3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

4 tbsp whole milk powder

6 tbsp powdered sugar

1/4 tsp cardamom powder

2-3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter is fine)

1 tbsp chopped pistachios *optional*


*this recipe yields very little (about 3"X3"  and about 3/4" thick), so if you want a 9" pan of Kalakand, it is best to quadruple the recipe, to make sure there is enough.



In a heavy bottom pan, stirring constantly, simmer 1 litre of whole milk.

As the milk is coming to a simmer, slowly add the lemon juice to curdle the milk.

When the milk is separated, strain the solids through a mesh sieve.  Let drain for 3 hrs.  The solids are now called paneer.


Put the paneer into a bowl and add the powdered whole milk and sugar and knead into a dough.

In a pan heat the ghee and add the paneer mixture.

Stir fry on low heat until ghee separates, remove from heat.

Add cardamom powder, mix and allow to cool a bit.

When cooled a bit, press into pan.

Press chopped pistachios onto the top of the kalakand *optional*

Wait 1-2 hrs to allow to cool completely.
Cut into squares and enjoy


This is a very rich and tasty dessert often served at Indian celebrations.  It comes in many colors, flavours and styles, including being decorated with real edible silver foil.