Bengal is an eastern state of India with its own unique cuisine. The sweets made there have created their niche among the plethora of sweet dishes made all over India.
This is a recipe which I took from a very inspiring blog called Ecurry authored by Soma .
1. Full cream milk- 750 ml (3 cups)
2. Sugar- 1/4 cup
3. Juice from 1 lemon (you can also use vinegar to curdle the milk)
4. Saffron/ kesar- 1 pinch
5. Crushed cardamom/elaichi- a few pinches
1. Bring the milk to a gentle boil by keeping it on medium heat.
2. Add lime juice in small amounts till the milk is coagulated or curdled.
3. The moment you see clear greenish colored water, turn off the heat.
4. Line a colander/sieve with a cheesecloth and transfer the contents to it. Spray it with cold water and to wash off the lemon flavour. This step has to be done thoroughly otherwise, the Sandesh will take up the lemon flavor which is unbecoming of the dish.
5. Now gather the cheesecloth and twist it into a knot. Let this drain for 45 -60 min.
6. After draining , take out the "chenna" and knead it with hand.
"Knead evenly for about 7-10 minutes. During the last 3 minutes, add the sugar & the crushed saffron. Knead the chenna/cheese along with the sugar. By this time the chenna/cheese should be very smooth & not grainy at all. To test if it is done & ready for the next step, take a portion of the chenna/cheese & roll it in a sphere between your palms. The sphere should be very smooth on the outside with no cracks."..Ecurry
7. Take a non-stick pan and spread the chenna on it. Cook it on low heat while continuously stirring it,so that it does not stick to the bottom. This step should remove the raw smell , but should not be prolonged in order to avoid crumbly texture, due to which it won't remain good to mould.
8. The cooking which change the shade of cheese a little. It should take about 12-15 minutes to cook it. When its done it'll no longer stick to the pan and will come together.
9. Quickly, remove it from heat and transfer it to a bowl.
10. Mould it into balls/other shapes in decorative moulds while it is still warm to touch. Once cooled, you wont be able to mould them, though it will still be edible.
11. Take a mould and press down some portion on it. Smoothen the edges with fingertips. Keep a bowl of water handy for this task. Wet your fingers for smoothening.
12. Once set, they hold their shape and can be garnished with nuts (pistachios and almonds) or saffron or coarsely grounded green cardamom.
This recipe sounds like a lot of work. Yeah, maybe a little..but its totally worth it. I'm sending this recipe to Tina's "CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE" which is a monthly event, encouraging the blog newbie's to spread their stories over yummy recipes borrowed from each other.
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