Sandesh is one of the most favorite sweets in Bengal. It is milk based sweets with very few ingredients and surprisingly very easy to make (I realized it after making). It is made from curdled milk or Channa as we call it, another name is Panner/cottage cheese. Freshly made channa/ paneer is sweetened by adding sugar in it, and some flavours like, rose assence, cardamom powder and Saffron are also added for special touch.
Here is how I made it :In the title, I wrote half traditionally, because it is made from fresh channa/cottage cheese and the chaana is then knead to make lump-free by hand to make Sandesh soft. I had very less time when I made them, so to make it faster, I used readymade paneer cubes, available in market and I kneaded them in Mixer to save time.
Ingredients : (Will make 20-24 medium size sandesh)Paneer cubes : 500 gms.
Sugar : 3/4 cup or as needed
Black Cardamom powder : 2 tsp.
Rose essence : 1 and 1/2 tsp.
Saffron : 1 tsp.(crushed between fingers)
Cardamom seeds : few (for decoration)
Saffron : few strands (for decoration)
- As I had frozen paneer cubes, I defrosted them first and then knead them a little by hand.
- To make the process little faster, I put them in a mixer and added little milk. It softens quite fast that way, but this way channa/paneer liquidises a bit because of added milk.
- After it softens and becomes lump-free, add sugar little by little. Mix it in the mixer, taste it and if needed add some more. When sugar just dissolves in channa, take out from mixer.
- Now, this step is the most critical and important part of making sandesh. So be cautious. Heat a non-stick flat pan, spread the channa-sugar mixture on the pan evenly. Change the heat to medium. Stir constantly with a spatula so that it does not stick to the pan, scraping off the sides of the pan. Cook on medium heat for the first 5-6 minutes. You will see slowly the texture is changing to thicker consistency, then lower the heat. Cook on low flame, stirring continuously, you will see the colour is also changing to darker shade. Add cardamom powder, rose essence and crushed saffrons into it. Mix well.
- When you see the channa is no longer sticking to the pan and you can gather the whole thing and make a ball, then it's time to turn off the heat (for test, take a little channa in your palm, make a small ball rolling between your palms. If you can make it, then it's done). If you heat longer than this, the channa will be hard and lumpy and the sandesh will turn hard. This process should take 15-20 minutes and is called "paak". (I heated a little more, my channa became little crumbly as you can see in the pic. I could give it a shape and it was soft, but the channa was little crumbly..so be cautious about it)
- Spread on a plate for 5 minutes to cool down a bit. DO NOT let it cool much, then you won't be able to give it a shape. Take little portion and make it into round or oblong, any shape you want.
- For decoration : Take 1-2 tsp. milk on a bowl, drop the saffron strands into it. take one or two saffron strands on hand and press on top of each sandesh. Seperate cardmom seeds, take one or two cardamom and press on top of each Sandesh. You can decorate any way you want, can decorate with fruit pieces, too like, with small cherry or pineapple pieces. Can decorate with pistachio or almonds pieces.
Sandesh can be kept fresh for at least 7-10 days in refrigerator. It tastes also good when slightly cool. But keep in an airtight container, otherwise it can become hard.
Arundhuti for her
first event, "Served with Love", as this Sandesh is my Husband's and my Daughter's favorite Sweet.