Sandesh or Shondesh as I call it in Bangla has been an integral part of all the celebrations at home, being from a typical Bengali family. At our place in West Bengal, sandesh is served before a glass of water to anyone coming home & it’s not at all difficult to make. So here we go..
1. Boil the milk in a pan. As soon as it starts to boil, add all of the lemon juice. You will see the milk starting to curdle & the solids & whey separate. Try to add the lemon juice in one place (same spot trying not to spread all over). This will help the milk to curdle faster.
2. Take out all the solids & whey in a muslin cloth & tie it loosely with everything inside & let it hang to enable the water to drain away. Do not squeeze away the excess liquid or else it will make the paneer too dry.
3. After about 15-20 minutes take the paneer & add to it the sugar & knead using the palm ofyour hands. The more you knead, the creamier texture it will take & the better the sandesh is made. You can add the cardamom powder or saffron/rosewater along with & add the nuts in the end. Many would love to use a little arrowroot powder just about a tsp to bind it better
4. Now take a little mixture in your hand & roll it into a ball or you can set it into beautiful designs using moulds (stone & various other moulds are easily available in the market). Youcan now decorate the sandesh with some chopped nuts & silver foil (chandi ka varq) & Hey!! Your sandesh is made...Do invite me to have a taste. Happy cooking..
A plate-ful of Sandesh made using different moulds
Tip: You can be innovative & try out various other ingredients like palm jaggery, food colour etc. to make your own version of sandesh.