Sandesh Pudding

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Subho Bijaya to all of you. The travelling, spending time with family and flying back to the US had its own toll. 4 days after we came back from our India trip and we are still unpacking things, the worst part being I just can’t remember where I kept what. So, posting a nice recipe for the special occasion was almost impossible for me.

Ishita Saha of IshitaUnblogged came to my rescue.  Ishita is just one year into the blogging world and she has marked her path in the cooking world. Ishita was very kind to be our guest blogger and share the wonderful fusion recipe of Sandesh Pudding with us. Read more to learn about Ishita, her love for cooking, her blogging world and her recipe in her own words.

My Blog just turned one! Not a very long journey but it has definitely been a momentous one – from making some good bloggers friends down the way, getting featured in BBC Good Food Magazine, making my favourite Rasgulla for a Ramadan special episode in the local TV channel to having loads of love from a lot of foodies the world over – the blogging journey of this Bong blogger has been quite fulfilling. And throughout the journey there has been a lot of introspection – how can I transcend myself from being a regional blogger to being an international one? Well, I haven’t. Everybody still knows me as the Bong Blogger and the biggest hit that my posts have had are when I have written aboutPhuchka or traditional Bangla Khabar!

But long before my blogging journey began my association with Cook Like a Bong started just like any other Bengali who’s starting their lives outside the comfort zones of their parents’ home… either because of work or because of marriage. Most Bengali girls (most) grow up with not much knowledge of cooking and the Porashuno or studying becoming the sole objective. ‘Jao to porashuno koro giye, rannaghor-e aar shomoy noshto korte obe na/Go and study, don’t have to waste time in the kitchen’ being the constant reminders from quintessentially Bong parents. So what do these cooking-illiterate people do once they have to set up their own homes and make their own meals? They make sites like Sudeshna’s their sole reference point!

Funnily when I made the Rasgullas for the local TV channel, I was almost mugging up the Rasgulla Recipe from where else? But, Cook Like a Bong! The least I can do for all the meals that I have cooked successfully following these recipes apart from saying A BIG THANK YOU is to give back one recipe to Sudeshna!

But what kind of recipe shall I contribute to? Drinks, Curries, Chutneys, Sweets – everything seems to be here anyway. Before the summer hit us, Sudeshna suggested that I could perhaps do a cool summer drink. But whatever I thought of seems to have been here. Summer turned into Monsoons and now the Autumns too seem to be turning into Winter. Bengalis are still greeting each other Subho Bijoya – probably the exchange of festive greetings can continue till Kali Pujo and Diwali. This is also the time to visit family & friends with a box of sweets. Hence my virtual treat of a fusion Bengali Sweet – the Shondesh Pudding to all those who aspire to Cook Like A Bong!

Shondesh is perhaps one of the most popular and unique of Bengali Sweets made with channa/paneer/Indian cottage cheese. Most Bengali sweet shops outside Bengal have managed to dole out a wide variety of Bengali Sweets, but Shondesh! What could be the probable reason, I’m not too sure. It’s probably the simplicity of the recipe of Shondesh – mixing pure sweetened Channa with other aromatic garnishing – that makes it difficult to replicate!

Again, Caramel Pudding though originally transported from the European shores has entered the Indian kitchens in many parts of India and has become popular among the ParsisMangaloreans and Anglo-Indians. There are many regional variations of the Caramel Pudding in many parts of the world (read here).

Pudding for me has many memories associated with it. Every-time my brother and I, we wanted something fancy, our Mum would stir up a Caramel Pudding in a jiffy. And we would be so thrilled and happy with our special treat. Unfortunately, my girls don’t enjoy the simple Caramel Pudding so much as we did in our childhood. Neither do they like the dry taste of Shondesh. But when I conjure the two of them together in this so called Shondesh Pudding with hundreds-and-thousands sprinkled on top, I see the same thrill and excitement in their eyes as we had in ours – many decades back.

This is perhaps the very essence of cooking – everything comes in a full circle. recipes are passed on from one generation to another and modified and modernized in the way, incorporating the trendy bits and skimming the non-trendy ones… so pudding from one continent gets fused with Shondesh from another continent and becomes a Bengali fusion dessert – Shondesh Pudding for the new generation of Bongs!

Sandesh Pudding

Dessert, Indian, Pudding, Bengali dessert, Sandesh
Cooks in    Serves 8-10
Ingredients
  • Ingredients for Pudding
  • Milk, full cream - 1lt
  • Eggs - 5
  • Sugar - 1 cup
  • Channa/Paneer, crumbled - 300gm
  • Vanilla Essence - 1 tsp
  • Cardamom, crushed into powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Cinnamon, crushed into powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Ingredients for Caramel Sauce
  • Sugar - 1/4 Cup
Directions
  • Heat 1/4 cup of sugar with 1 tsp of water in a pan to melt it. Pour the caramelized sugar into a flat round mold and let it cool. Mix the Eggs, Sugar in a bowl and blend it till the sugar dissolves. Add the milk, cardamom powder, cinnamon powder and vanilla essence to the mixture and blend it further till the mixture is smooth
  • Add half the crumbled channa/ paneer into the mixture and stir it in softly so that the paneer crumbles don\'t turn into fine pieces
  • Pour the mixture onto the glass bowl containing the caramelized sugar
  • Pour the remaining half of the crumbled chenna/ paneer on top of the mixture so that the chenna layer can form a base once the pudding is turned upside down
  • Steam it either by baking or using a pressure cooker (it should take about 30 minutes in the latter)
  • If you are baking
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C
  • Place the mold with the mixture in a large, deep baking pan. Pour hot water into the baking pan till it is about 1\" below the rim of the mold
  • Bake it for 45 minutes (you can test whether the pudding is done by inserting a toothpick in the center of the pudding. If it comes out clean it means that the pudding is done)
  • Serving
  • Place a plate over the mold and turn the pudding gently onto the plate. The caramel side should be up. Sprinkle the hundreds-and-thousands
  • Serve the sandesh pudding chilled as you cut them into individual pieces. Savor the caramel sauce pouring out!

 

Sprinkles (also called jimmies) are very small pieces of sugar strands used as a decoration on cupcakes, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and puddings. Hundreds-and-thousands pep up a dessert in a very novel way – it adds lot of childish spunk! These sugar-loaded pieces could be a subject by itself as you can read here.

  If you like this post, please consider linking to it or sharing it with others. I’ll love to hear your comments too.You can also Subscribe to BengaliCuisine by Email, or Subscribe in a reader

Guest Post- Chilled Coconut and Melon Soup with Ginger

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Its been a long since we had a guest post on our blog. This post is from a very dear friend, Soma who blogs at eCurry. She had prepared this chilled and refreshing soup from the cantaloupe grown in her own backyard. Know ore about it in her own words:

The chilled soup is perfect for entertaining, incredibly refreshing and quite simple to make.

I have a feeling that we have left the gnarling sun and the summer heat behind us. The shriveled up grass has finally started to look green and when they are bathed in the morning sun, they are prettier than ever. This time of the year is actually the most beautiful time in Texas. The struggle with the sun has come to an end. We have had a few showers. The early morning hours are just breathtakingly beautiful, filled with shadows and the pink in the sky and if we are lucky, I can see the few lavender stalks swaying in the cool pleasant breeze. I usually wait to embrace this time with open arms. It is that time of the year when I draw energy from the dawn to make myself go through the day.

The little green patch at the back yard surprised us with a few cantaloupes when I had thought we had lost all the squash and melons to the nasty bugs. Tucked in one corner, I saw this one (and a couple more after this) hanging down from the fence!

Delights of life are in little things. The home grown cantaloupes are half the size of the store bought ones; just the perfect size to serve the four of us with no leftovers. A couple of years back when we had these tiny cantaloupes, we got obsessed with these fruit filled melon bowls. Every single cantaloupe was destined to be scooped out to make Melon Fruit Bowl.

And this year we are into to chilled soups and juice.

This summer soup is really easy to make. All you would need to do is blend everything together and chill. If you have been reading my recipes, you would know I have an obsession with ginger. It finds a place in almost every recipe in my kitchen, including many desserts, and this was no different. I love the way it immediately elevates the flavors with a zing.

Although the mixture keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of days, it’s best within a couple of hours of making it. And since everything comes together so quickly, it’s never much of a hassle to prepare right before a meal, which leaves it plenty of time to cool before you’re ready to eat. It is a lovely way to clean the palate after any meal.

Chilled Coconut and Melon Soup with a hint of Ginger

Dinner, Indian, Cantaloupe recipe, Chilled soup, Summer coolers
Cooks in    Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cup ripe juicy melon (cantaloupe/honey dew or the kind; you may use combine different kinds), chopped
  • 3/4 – 1 cup light coconut milk
  • sugar/honey/agave nectar, to taste (you will need this if melons are not sweet enough. Omit if not needed)
  • 2 tablespoon fresh (or frozen) grated coconut
  • 1.5 teaspoon fresh lime juice, or to taste
  • fresh refreshing herbs like mint/lemon thyme/any kind you like
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger juice (grate fresh ginger and squeeze out the juice) or 1.5 tablespoon chopped candied ginger (adjust amount to taste)
  • ice cubes
  • a couple of tablespoon finely chopped melons to garnish
Directions
  • Combine ice, coconut milk, chopped melons (other than those for garnish), grated coconut, sweetener, ginger juice/candied ginger, lemon juice and some of the fresh herbs and blend until smooth.
  • If needed, chill the soup.
  • When ready to serve, divide in serving bowls, and garnish with chopped melons and more herbs.
  • Enjoy the summer!

 If you like this post, please consider linking to it or sharing it with others. I’ll love to hear your comments too.You can also Subscribe to BengaliCuisine by Email, or Subscribe in a reader

Guest Post – Doi Ilish

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We at Cook Like a Bong love to see that our readers are so eager to share our recipes and so every month you try to include a couple of guest posts to our blog. This guest post is shared by a very nice Bengali couple – Anindita and Shantanu.

Asked to describe their passion for food, they said – “Both of us love to eat and also share the passion of cooking. We spent some good quality time in the kitchen, experimenting and trying many different recipes. Our blog name ‘Bhalo Khabo’ says it all ‘Let’s cook something good to eat‘.

Ingredients:

  • Ilish or Hilsa
  • ½  cup Yogurt
  • 2-3 tbsp Mustard Paste
  • ½  tsp Turmeric Powder
  • Mustard Oil  (Preferred, otherwise any other oil would even do)
  • ½  tsp Kalo Jeera (Kalonji Seeds)
  • 3-4 Green Chillies
  • Chopped Cilantro

Preparation:

  • Clean the hilsa pieces and pat dry them. Season them with salt and turmeric powder.
  • Now heat Mustard Oil in a wok, and slowly put the fish pieces one by one and fry them lightly
  • In a bowl mix the yogurt and the mustard paste, add the turmeric powder. Remove the fish pieces after they are fried and keep the oil aside. (We Bengali’s love this oil with plain rice.)
  • Add some fresh oil to the wok and temper with the Kalo Jeera seeds and let them splutter.
  • Turn the heat to low and add the yogurt and mustard paste and  the green chillies.
  • As the oil starts separating, add the fish, salt and a cup of water, cover and cook for sometime. Serve with hot Basmati Rice.
  • Garnish with a few drops of fresh mustard oil and chopped cilantro and enjoy the Bengali Delicacy.

Further Reading – Ilish Bhapa

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Beverages your Bengali taste buds would savor

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Hope you all have made plans for welcoming the New Year, and not to forget a whole new decade. Our journey at Cook Like a Bong started 3 years back. We like to thank all our readers for their wonderful support through out. We hope that we’ll receive more readers and more Bong food lovers and foodies in the years to come. To end with a post for this year, here’s a guest post from Joy Paley.

Joy Paley is a science, technology, and health writer from Berkeley, California. When she’s not reading about the latest medical research, you can find her doing yoga, cooking, or working on a crafty project. She is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and writes on online degrees for Guide to Online Schools.

Best of Bengali Beverages

The Bengal region of India offers some seriously delicious smoothies, iced, and hot drinks. These can be a great pick-me-up between meals, or an interesting and sophisticated offering at your next party. The best part? These treats are chock full of nutrients that make them both healthful and tasty.

Papaya Shakes

These are great because their ingredients are so simple: they’re usually just a blend of papaya, mint, and water, with some lemon and honey for flavor. In some places you can find them with a little spice, courtesy of black pepper powder. And, papayas are rich in antioxidants that help fight free radicals, which can cause cancer and make you age faster. Papayas are also full of potassium, fiber, and folate.

Photo Courtesy – Nithya of 4th Sense Cooking

Watermelon Juice

It’s hard to find a good version of this juice in the store, but it’s easy to prepare at home. All you need is a ripe watermelon and a juicer. Make your watermelon juice, add a little mint juice, lemon juice, sugar, and mint leaves for garnish. Wait until it’s ice cold to drink. Watermelon is high in vitamin C and vitamin A, and low in calories.

Jaljeera

This spiced drink is probably something you haven’t tried before, unless you’re familiar with Bengali beverages. It’s made by adding cumin powder, sugar, salt, chat masala, and lemon juice to water, and chilling in the refrigerator. Cumin is a cancer-preventing antioxidant that also helps detoxify the liver.

Photo Courtesy – Sabah in Action

Hot Cocoa

The ingredients here are similar to hot cocoa you may have encountered before, but the preparation is different. Cocoa powder and salt are combined to form a paste, diluted with cold water, and boiled. Then milk and sugar are added. The result is a delicious way to stay warm. Plus, cocoa contains a wide array of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant compound that fights signs of aging in your skin and other organs.

Ginger Tea

You’ve probably got the essential ingredients to make this yummy tea already in your kitchen. It’s made by combining a crushed piece of ginger, aniseed, and tea leaves in boiling water. After boiling for a few minutes, you strain out the spices, and add sugar and milk to taste. Ginger is a great home remedy for joint and muscle pain, nausea, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Photo Courtesy – Thai Dessert

 
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