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 Parsis, Mangaloreans 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!
- 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
- 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)
- 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.