In our effort to infuse kitchenpostcards with new ideas, recipes and methods, we present to you our second guest post contributed by Charu Zelawat (nee Bhandari). She has been a childhood friend of our author, Kanika. Charu is a lawyer, a certified company secretary, a lady with great style and demonstrably good culinary skills. The best part, she has a sweet tooth just like both of us, so we couldn’t be happier to collaborate with one more of our kind! 🙂 Read on to learn more about this beautiful Bengali mithai, called Sandesh, literally translating into message. So, here’s a sweet message to you from the kitchenpostcards team!
A perfect dessert at the end of the day is what I pray for every morning, and this fine day I was inspired to try my hand at making Sandesh (pronounced sondesh), the quintessential Bengali sweet. No, I am not a Bengali, but the popularity of Bengali sweets is unparalleled in India and a Marwari living in Gujarat cooking Sandesh proves that. Talk about a melting pot of cultures!
In essence Sandesh/sondesh is sweetened paneer fudge, which can be flavoured and coloured as per your choice. All those calorie watchers and nutrition freaks out there bite into this calcium packed sweet punch to gratify your sweet tooth. Partake of this creative mithai which can be presented in 5,152 ways….Oops! Just kidding…:)
I used a combination of orange and strawberry flavours for my signature sandesh (a quick secret; this combination clicked while picking out my dress for hosting a dinner at home ;p). A very easy recipe, trust me it’s even easier than picking the right pair of shoes! By now you know I am a little fashionista! Guilty as charged!! It’s so quick you can also make it last-minute, if all the ingredients are at hand.
So get comfy, put on your apron, turn on your favourite tunes and begin your journey towards becoming the creator of yummylicious magic.
Preparation Time: just a minute less than a beauty shower…hmmmm…let’s negotiate to 30 mins.
Cooking Time: 20 mins (I skipped making a playlist of the songs…took 5 mins extra to juggle my Ipad and the ladle there in the kitchen, multitasking much!!!)
Makes: around 18 unless you gorge on them as you cook.
2 litres, milk (preferably full cream)
4 tbsp., lemon Juice
¾th cup, powdered Sugar (heaped cup)
½ tsp., orange essence
Few strands, kesar/saffron
¼th tsp., strawberry essence
2 drops, pink food colour
Choco chips to decorate
The first step is to make paneer, which is the base for this sweet. Paneer is Indian cottage cheese.
In a large pot bring milk to a boil, then add lemon juice, reduce the heat and wait until the milk starts curdling. Stir until all the milk curdles and the water separates. Switch the flame off and then pour the curdled milk through a muslin cloth and run fresh cold water over it to get rid of the sour taste. Tie the corners of the cloth and hang it for at least 30 minutes to strain the remaining water.
Since I was working on this for a dinner party, the next step for me was to get out of the kitchen and take a rejuvenating shower while the paneer drained.
Back at the work (play) station, untie the muslin cloth and gently squeeze any left over liquid. Now, add powdered sugar to the paneer and you can blend it in a food processor until it’s a smooth paste. The original method though is to knead, but blending makes it easier, and that’s what I always want…
Next, transfer this mixture to a nonstick tawa/griddle and cook for 10 minutes (just 8-10 mins not more than that). Initially it will be sticky but slowly it will turn into a non-sticky mixture. Switch off the stove at this stage and transfer the mix into a bowl.
Let it cool down, meanwhile you could indulge in some premature boasting on the phone with you mum or best friend. Be sure to send them the first picture on whatsapp! Another note of caution, the expectations will rise and so will the pressure, so watch out.
Getting back to work, divide the mixture in to two portions in a 3:1 ratio. Add orange essence and saffron strands to the larger portion and mix well. Saffron can be added as strands or by mixing it in a few spoonfuls of warm milk and kneading that into the sweetened paneer. While the mixture is still warm start shaping it into bite size balls, imagine the size of a Lindt chocolate. Flatten this with the palm of your hand. Incase the mixture gets too sticky, do not panic, just dab some corn flour or processed wheat flour/cake flour i.e. maida and continue to mould.
To the smaller portion, add strawberry essence and food colour. Make tiny rounds balls of this mix and place them in center of the orange sandesh balls. Gently push it in and top it off with a chocolate chip. Leave out to cool before putting in the refrigerator. The sandesh will harden as it cools and will not remain as crumbly as it is when warm.
Tadaaa!!!…Time to get ready to host the party! You might want to skip applying artificial blush tonight, because soon enough compliments from your guests will turn your cheeks a deep pink!
Oops I hope you watsapp’d your eagerly waiting mom and other jealous pals…Instagram ….facebook….Twitter….email…gmail…newspapers….telegrams…..ahhhh….#melodramatic….
Just a quick tip: Bring the ready sandesh out of the refrigerator 10 minutes before you serve, and relish it with all the happy smiles and discussion of your cooking expertise.