12 cups fresh whole milk
1 teaspoon citric acid crystals
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, crushed to a powder a buttered stainless-steel bowl 4 inches to 5 inches in diameter or a 2 1/2 cup decorative mold
1 sheet edible gold or silver decorative foil, if available
1 tablespoon blanched, raw pistachio nuts, sliced fine
1. Condense the milk by following either procedure A or B:
(A) Pour all the milk into a heavy 8-quart saucepan (nonstick cookware is ideal) and place it over a high flame. Stirring constantly with a wide wooden spatula, bring the milk to a full boil. Stir and boil the milk vigorously until it comes down to about 6 cups.
(B) Pour 6 cups of the milk into a heavy 5- or 6-quart saucepan and place it over a high flame. Stirring constantly with a wide wooden spatula, bring the milk to a full boil. Stir and boil the milk vigorously until it comes down to 3 cups. Put aside the 3 cups of condensed milk. Pour the remaining 6 cups of milk into the saucepan and cook until it comes down to about 3 cups. Pour in the other 3 cups of condensed milk.
2. Place the condensed milk over a moderate to medium-high flame and boil while stirring constantly. Very slowly, at about 3-minute intervals, sprinkle in dry, separate crystals of citric acid, adding from 1/8 to 1/3 teaspoon at a time until small granules form in the milk. If the grains of citric acid fall into the milk in clumps or become moist and stick together, there is every chance that undesirable small lumps of cheese will form. Continue to stir, boil, and condense the milk until it reaches the consistency of heavy cream. Then reduce the flame to medium to prevent the bottom of the pan from scorching.
3. Add the sugar, and while stirring rhythmically, methodically, and vigorously, condense the milk until it becomes a thick paste. Regulate the flame so that you can condense the milk as quickly as possible without scorching or burning it. When the milk is somewhat dry and almost thick enough to pull into a mass, remove the pan from the flame and pour the milk into the buttered bowl or mold. Cover securely. Allow the preparation to sit for about 12 hours.
4. To remove the cake from the mold, first loosen the cake by partially submerging the mold in a container of boiling water. Then gently run a spatula or butter knife down the walls of the mold. Now invert the cake onto a small decorative serving tray or platter.
5. Garnish the surface of the cake with edible gold or silver foil (optional) or a sprinkle of slivered pistachio nuts. Cut the cake into small delicate wedges before offering to Krishna