Pamper yourself with bite sized Indian dessert!
Sandesh is a traditional Bengali sweet, made with cottage/ricotta cheese. The recipe is very simple and easy to make.
Normally, I am more of a baking person than a mithai person, but this quest for a perfect sandesh was for my grandson, who loves sandesh, a case of confirmed inheritance from his mom, who is from Kolkata, the city of joy!
Every time we are at Surati Farsan Mart, he looks so lovingly at saffron hued sandesh but cannot eat because they always sell it with Pistachio garnishing and he has nut allergy! The mere sight breaks my heart.
One day he asked me, if I could make sandesh for him at home! A tall order, but I had to endeavor!
I am glad that I was able to throw together a decent sandesh as per his specifications. I did not have those traditional wooden moulds, so I just shaped the cottage cheese mixture into a ball and then marked it with a wooden textile floral block bought at Anokhi, back home in New Delhi.
There are a number of takes on sandesh. But here I go with my grandson approved version, a re-branding…of Gurer Sandesh to a San Diegan Sandesh!
The concocted product tastes great, and looks fine too. You may want to indulge …but not sure about the sandesh purists…!
We would need about 4 cups milk and 2 tbsp white vinegar, diluted with 1 tbsp water to make cottage cheese.
½ cup cottage cheese
2 Tbsp gur/ date palm jaggery
2 Tbsp icing sugar
½ tsp cardamom powder
Few strands saffron
½ tsp Rose water
Boil milk over medium heat and add vinegar. Stir once and switch off the gas.
Pour into a colander lined with a cheese cloth. Pour some filtered water to wash off the vinegar smell, if any.
You will get about ½ cup of cottage cheese / ricotta cheese/chenna.
Knead the cheese to break the granules. It is best done with the palm, or the back of a ladle till it is no longer coarse.
Scoop up and divide into 2 parts.
Heat 2 tbsp jaggery in a heavy bottomed pan.
Stir for about 1 minute (it would soften); add cottage cheese, cardamom powder and saffron strands.
Keep stirring constantly.
Cook till the mixture comes together and leaves side, almost 4 to 5 minutes.
Spread on a platter. Mash with your palm.
Add the other half, that is, cheese and icing sugar mixture. Knead again.
Sprinkle some rose-water.
Knead and gently mix everything.
Take small portions and make round shapes.
Make a design with the block.
If you have the moulds, just grease them, press the mixture and unmold onto a platter.
If you wish, you can garnish.
Makes 6 pieces.
Note: I used normal jaggery powder available at Indian shops.
And yes, you don’t have to wait for that special occasion!
To add extra glam quotient, serve with raspberries, golden raisins, grated chocolate, lemon zest, pistachio and cardamom powder!
Dress it up as you like it!
After all, there are no rules in cooking!