Sandesh is a delectable and traditional Bengali sweet that is as delightful in taste as it is in its simplicity. This melt-in-your-mouth confection is crafted from fresh paneer (chana) and a touch of sugar, resulting in a dessert that embodies the essence of Indian cuisine. Sandesh is renowned for its soft and creamy texture, often infused with aromatic hints of cardamom or saffron, and frequently garnished with a sprinkle of chopped nuts. Perfectly suited for special occasions and festive celebrations, Sandesh is a beloved treat that captures the sweet spirit of Bengali culinary tradition.
1 liter of cow’s milk (full-fat)
1/4 cup lemon juice or vinegar
1/2 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
A pinch of cardamom powder or a few saffron strands (for flavor)
Chopped pistachios or almonds for garnish
Boil the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan. Stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
Once the milk comes to a boil, reduce the heat and add lemon juice or vinegar a little at a time while stirring. The milk will curdle, separating into curds (chhana) and whey. When the whey turns clear, stop adding the lemon juice or vinegar.
Line a strainer with a clean muslin cloth or cheesecloth. Pour the curdled milk through the cloth to separate the chana from the whey. Rinse the chana under cold water to remove any lemony or vinegary taste.
Gather the cloth and squeeze out excess water from the chana. Hang it for 30-60 minutes to drain any remaining whey.
Take the chana on a plate and knead it well with the heel of your hand for about 5-7 minutes until it becomes smooth, soft, and pliable. This step is crucial for a smooth Sandesh texture.
Add sugar to the kneaded chana and knead again for a few more minutes until the mixture is well combined and starts to leave the sides of the plate.
Transfer the chana-sugar mixture to a non-stick pan and cook on low heat. Stir continuously to prevent it from sticking to the pan and to evaporate any excess moisture. This process should take about 7-10 minutes.
When the mixture thickens and comes together as a soft dough, turn off the heat.
Add a pinch of cardamom powder or a few saffron strands for flavor. Mix well.
Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes but not completely.
Shape the Sandesh into small round discs or any desired shape. You can garnish each Sandesh with chopped pistachios or almonds.
Let the Sandesh cool completely before serving. You can also refrigerate it for a few hours for a firmer texture.