Sandesh, a beloved Bengali sweet, is a divine delicacy that combines the goodness of fresh paneer (chhena) with the delicate flavors of cardamom and saffron. This melt-in-your-mouth sweet is not only a treat for the taste buds but also a symbol of Bengali culinary heritage. In this recipe, we'll guide you through the preparation of Sandesh, allowing you to recreate this classic dessert in your own kitchen.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Setting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: Approximately 12 pieces
- 2 liters of full-fat milk
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (or vinegar)
- 1/2 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
- A pinch of saffron strands
- 1 tablespoon warm milk
- Chopped pistachios or almonds for garnish (optional)
Step 1: Prepare Chhena (Paneer)
1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
2. Once the milk comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and add lemon juice or vinegar while stirring continuously. This will cause the milk to curdle.
3. As soon as the milk curdles and you see greenish whey separating from the curds, remove it from the heat.
4. Strain the curdled milk through a muslin cloth or fine sieve to separate the whey from the chhena (paneer). Rinse the chhena under cold water to remove any residual lemon juice or vinegar taste.
Step 2: Knead the Chhena
5. Gather the muslin cloth with the chhena and squeeze out any excess whey. Hang the chhena for about 30 minutes to remove excess moisture.
6. Transfer the drained chhena to a clean plate or work surface and knead it with the heel of your hand until it becomes smooth and soft. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
Step 3: Prepare the Sandesh
7. Heat a non-stick pan on low heat and add the kneaded chhena and sugar.
8. Cook the mixture on low heat, stirring continuously, until it thickens and leaves the sides of the pan. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
9. While cooking, add cardamom powder to the mixture and continue to stir.
Step 4: Shape the Sandesh
10. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool slightly.
11. While it's still warm, divide the mixture into small portions and shape them into flat discs, balls, or any desired shape using greased molds or your hands.
Step 5: Garnish and Set
12. Dissolve a pinch of saffron strands in warm milk and drizzle a few drops of this saffron-infused milk on top of each Sandesh for added flavor and a beautiful golden hue.
13. Garnish with chopped pistachios or almonds if desired.
Step 6: Allow to Set
14. Let the Sandesh cool completely and set for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Step 7: Serve and Enjoy
15. Once the Sandesh has set, gently remove them from the molds if used and serve them chilled.
- Use full-fat milk for a creamier texture.
- You can adjust the amount of sugar to suit your sweetness preference.
- Be patient while kneading the chhena; it should be smooth and soft.
Sandesh is a quintessential Bengali sweet that showcases the delicate flavors of cardamom and saffron, making it an exquisite treat for any occasion. Enjoy crafting and savoring this creamy bliss!
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