Bengali’s are known for their sweet tooth and the vast variety of ethnic sweets. I am part of the exception, I do not like sweets! When I was younger, my sister had me convinced that I was adopted because I did not share the sweet tooth of my family.
“See mom likes sweets, dad like sweets, I like sweets all our uncles and aunts and cousins love sweets. But you don’t .” she said.
“But I look exactly like dad!” I argued.
“Plastic surgery” Was her quick reasoning.
Older siblings, and their pranks! However, there are a couple exceptions to my taste preference. There are three desserts that I absolutely love (and can eat endlessly!): Tiramisu, Rasogolla and Sondesh. Especially the one made by one of my favorite person in the entire world, monju kakima, who I fondly call ‘Best Friend’. Luckily she is also a good teacher.
Sondesh is probably one of the most popular Bengali sweets, even outside of the Bangali crowd. And all you need for it is some milk and sugar. Now if you can get your hands on some ‘Patali gur’ (a special type of jaggery made from Date Palm Syrup) the this dessert just becomes extraordinary.
Time for Prep: 5 mins Time to Cook: 20-30 mins Yield: 8-10 servings Level: Easy
- Half gallon – Whole Milk
- Juice of 1 lime (around 1.5 tbsp)
- 6 tbsp sugar
- Curdle milk to make ‘Channa’:
- Bring milk to a boil, add the lemon juice and lower heat. In a few seconds you will notice the milk solids forming. When the water is completely separated (turns a greenish shade) remove from heat and drain into a colander lined with cheese cloth.
- Run a little bit of water on it to get rid of the lemony taste, drain.
- Gather the ends of the cheese cloth and bring them together, like a purse, slowly squeeze out the water. Be careful not to burn your hands as it is really hot.
- This is now my mom does it: Hold the ends with your left hand and using a pair of tongs hold the purse just on top of the solids with your right. Then slowly twist the cloth with your left hand. The water squeezes out without resulting in burning fingers.
- Place it on a flat plate and weigh it with something heavy, I use my motar or a container filled with water. Let this sit for around an hour.
- Knead the Channa:
- Knead channa with the heel of your palm or the back of a bowl for 7-8 mins.
- Add sugar and knead for additional 4-5 mins. Till the sugar is completely blended in.
- When it all comes together and you have something that looks like a soft ball of dough, stop knead.
- Shape to make Sondesh:
- If you have molds, this is when you use it. or
- Shape them into balls.
- What I do: Shape them into balls, then flatten them a little. At this point the artist in me takes over and I use things around me to make a mark. For the Sondesh in this picture, I used a frother.
- You can further decorate by staining them with Saffron, adding raisins, pista etc..,.