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.

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Strawberry Sandesh

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“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”
-Ernestine Ulmer

Strawberry Sandesh

Strawberry Sandesh

Remember bite that you had craved for at the middle of the night at a place miles away from home? Well, for me its mom’s varied curries, phuchkas and padar dokaner mishti (পাড়ার দোকানের মিষ্টি – sweets from the local sweetshop). If you are from Kolkata, or have any other Bengali affiliation, probably you crave for the same.

If you live outside Bengal, you may find it tough to find any bengali sweet in your neighbourhood. Let alone different types of Sandesh. [You may find Phuchka though. Even if not, home made Phuchka is easy to prepare].

So, here are the simple steps to prepare an exotic variety – Strawberry Sandesh. If you can’t wait to know how to prepare Strawberry Sandesh, you may skip a couple of paragraphs ahead. Or else, read on for its History

History of Sandesh

Bengali cuisine was revolutionized in the 19th century. And the four sweet shops of Kolkata (কলকাতা ) , the then Calcutta) played a major role. These shops were named after their founders – Bhim Nag, K.C Das, Dwarika Ghosh and Ganguram and with these started the history of Sandesh (সন্দেশ).

Of these 4 pioneers, Bhim Nag patronized Sandesh (also referred as sandes, shandesh, sondes). Even after a century, Bhim Nag’s Sandesh is still a don’t-miss-when-you-are-in-Kolkata.

Most popular variety of Sandesh includes kara paker sandesh (কড়া পাকের সন্দেশ ), nalen gurer sandesh (নলেন  গুড়ের সন্দেশ), naram chanar sandesh (নরম ছানার সন্দেশ). Several companies even claim to do R&D in this field, but fresh chana (curd cheese) sandesh still remains a popular name.

The Request

In Cook Like a Bong Facebook page, Anshika requested for the flavored sandes recipe. I took the chance and bought some fresh strawberries from the market and prepared the strawberry sandes. It was an instant hit (it kicked ass!) among all who devoured the sweet.

Makes 10 sandesh

Preparation time: 30min + 1 hour

Cooking time: 20min

Strawberry

Strawberry

Ingredients:

  • Full cream milk (Dudh – দুধ): 1 litre
  • Strawberry (স্ট্রবেরি): 150gm
  • Sugar (Chini – চিনি): 3 tablespoon
  • Lemon Juice (Pati lebur ras – পাতি লেবুর রস): 2 tablespoon
  • Water (Jal – জল): 4 tablespoon
Channa

Chhana

Preparation:

  • Boil the milk, as it starts to increase in volume pour in the lemon juice and gently stir with a ladle
  • Chop the strawberries (don’t forget to put in some pieces in your mouth J) and put those in a pan with the sugar and water
  • Cook over low flame with stirring at times so that the puree doesn’t get stick to the bottom of the pan
  • Take out of pan when it turns sticky, keep aside to cool
  • Pour the chana (curd cheese, chhana, chhena) over a thin cloth so that the whey drains out, keep it hanged for 10-15min
  • Take the chana out of the cloth on a big plate, the texture will be a little spongy
  • Press the chana only with your palm and continue till your palm feel oil
Chhana Strawberry mix

Chhana mix

  • Fold in the strawberry puree with the chana
  • Transfer the strawberry mixed chana to the wet cloth and refrigerate for an hour
  • Take the chana out of the fridge and make shapes of your wish, garnish with sliced strawberries
Strawberry Sandesh

Strawberry Sandesh

Hot Tips – Alternately, you can also put the chopped strawberries in a blender and heat the puree with only sugar for 4-5 min or till it thickens. This Sandesh is made with fresh chana, so consume it within 24 hours of preparation.

You can also use calcium lactate to curdle the milk, but I don’t like the smell of it so I prefer using lemon juice.

Further Reading – Kara Paker SandeshCream FudgeCarrot Sandesh

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