Attempting Heart-Shaped Kalo Jam

This is a super challenge that I am starting off with. It is a traditional Bangladeshi dessert with a blackened sweet exterior and an even sweeter pink interior. It is similar to Ghulab Jam except it is a bit more firm and fried longer (oh that blackened sugar!). Tomorrow is actually my father’s birthday so I figured I’d go traditional and out of my comfort zone with this. Plus, I’m hoping the level of difficulty this possesses for me will open me to higher levels of cooking, or at least I’ll learn something from it.

It’s all about trial and error, right?

Those that happen to find my little virtual kitchen space, hello! And if you’re not Bengali or familiar with this dessert, I must warn you that it is pretty sweet. It is one of those really rich, flavorful, cannot-get-the-taste-out-of-mouth kind of desserts, but if you don’t mind that, then you’ll love it!

I have traversed through quite a few Bangladeshi blogs and YouTube videos on how to do this before deciding on what I wanted to do. I don’t have a fancy stand mixers like Kitchen-Aid, nor do I have the patience to create chenna overnight so I don’t think mine will be AS tasty as the ones from those Meeshti/Meetai places, but its convenience appealed to me and perhaps to you too!

Dessert Ingredients

  • Milk powder, grind to fine if coarse – 1 cup
  • All-Purpose flour – 1/2 cup
  • Semolina (shuji) – 1 Tbs
  • Unsalted Butter or ghee – 1 Tbs
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Heavy whipping cream – 1 cup approx
  • Oil for your deep fryer/pan
  • Mawa (optional) to use as garnish
  • Red food coloring (optional to achieve traditional look) – 1-2 drops

Syrup Ingredients

  • Sugar and Water – equal parts as dependent on size of your pan
  • Cardamom (optional for “flavor”) – 2 pcs
  • Lemon Juice – 1/4 tsp

Firstly, you need to get the syrup started. Toss your water, sugar and cardamom into a large pot and bring to a boil. You should use enough water and sugar so that the kalo jam can all be equally submerged (doesn’t have to be completely submerged, but enough to thoroughly let them soak. The kalo jam will be in this syrup bath for some time). Once the syrup comes to a boil, toss in your lemon juice, turn the heat down to a low/simmer setting and close the lid.

Now, the fun part! This can also be started as you’re waiting for the sugar-mixture to start boiling to save on time. Mix your fine milk powder, flour, semolina, baking powder and food coloring evenly in a bowl or on a plate. After it’s pretty even, add your butter/ghee and mix that in evenly.

We will now use heavy whipping cream to create our dough balls/shapes. DO NOT pour all of the cream into the mixture. You are going to take a bit of the mixture off to the side on your bowl or plate wherever you chose to mix your ingredients and pour just a bit of the cream over it to give your dough a smooth texture. Mix it in well and create the traditional kalo jam shapes. You could make your own shapes too like I did, in honor of my dad’s birthday and Valentine’s Day right around the corner. The reason you want to only do this to a little bit of the mixture at a time is because the heavy cream will dry in the batter and it’ll cause your kalo jams to either become too hard or too soft or have ugly cracks and wrinkles.

If you have a small fryer and cannot fit many kalo jams at a time, just create the number of shaped balls that you can fit into your pan. While they are frying, you would be able to shape up the next batch to fry. Make sure the oil is heated up at a medium heat and fry the balls on this setting. Do not rush it. They have to be cooked very slowly otherwise the outside will cook and become crispy and the inside will still remain raw. Fry the balls on medium heat until a deep golden brown, flipping it over occasionally (wooden spoon recommended).

As soon as they turn golden-brown, scoop out the fried balls with a strainer and place directly into the simmering syrup. Do this for all of your kalo jam shapes, replacing the syrup pan lid each time. Once the last one is in the syrup, turn off the heat and let the lidded pan sit for however long you want. The recipe I followed recommends overnight of 10-12 hours but that tends to be too sweet for me. I let mine sit for just an hour or two and they were fine. Perfectly firm but soft on the outside, and spongey soft goodness on the inside.

And that’s all there is to it!

*I’ll update this later with photos.