“Shandesh”, a dry sweet made from ‘chena’ or Indian cottage cheese, is a speciality of West Bengal & Bangladesh. It comes in different shapes and flavours. Various moulds of different structures are often used to give them some beautiful shapes and decoration. As for flavours, nowadays one can find right from Mango Shandesh to Chocolate Shandesh to Rose falvoured ones. The confectioners use synthetic colours and preservatives to give them a lucrative look. However, if you go for the traditional Shandeshes, which I personally prefer, they are usually milky white in colour and possess a chastity in the feature. However, one can show his/her creative quotient by giving Sandesh the look he/she likes.
After a small break I am posting this recipe. As our Durga Puja ended just few days back, I want to wish you all “Subho Bijoya” and happy Dashera. “Bijoya Dashomi” is incomplete without Rashogolla/Rasgulla and Shandesh.
Ingredients for 10 pieces :
- Milk – 4 cups (I used 1.5% fat milk, you can use full fat milk)
- Lemon juice/Vinegar – 2 tbspoon (This time I used vinegar to avoid the smell of lemon juice completely)
- Caster sugar – ¼ cup
- Green cardamom powder – ½ teaspoon (optional)
- Few strands of safron
- Milk – 1 teaspoon
- Pistachio slices for garnishing
Make Chena/Indian Cottage Cheese out of milk and vinegar/lemon juice.
Take out the chena on a flat work surface (preferably on a wooden surface) and rub with your palm for 4-5 minutes or until smooth.
Now add cardamom powder and half of the sugar to the chena and mix well. Then add rest of the sugar and mix homogeneously with chena by kneading well for a couple of minutes. Getting mixed with sugar, the chena will turn little soft and watery.
Now cook this chena, stirring continuously, in a nonstick pan over low heat for 5 – 6 minutes to get rid of the raw flavour of chena.
Now transfer the cooked chena on a plate and let it cool down a bit. Again knead the chena for a couple of minutes while still warm.
Now divide the chena into 10 equal parts and give them your desired shape (I made flat round balls, you can make square shape also). At this point the chena balls still remaining soft, however turns dry and hard as getting cold .
For garnishing add milk to the saffron strands and the nice yellow colour of saffron will get into the milk. Now dip your finger tip into this yellow colour and place at the centre of the chena balls, press a bit to make a small indentation.
Top with pistachio slices.
- For best result prepare the chena one night before and hange the cheese cloth containing chena/cheese overnight to remove the excess water completely.
- Don’t over cook the chena otherwise it will become crumbly and difficult to bind.
- Garnishing is completely up to you. One can have sandesh without any garnishing at all.