Today, I came up with the recipe of a dessert that I prepared on 4th of July weekend! It is one of most loved and traditional sweet dish in Bengal. Very easy and simple to make, need only four ingredients to make this mouthwatering dessert. It takes only 15 minutes for preparation and another 15 minutes of cooking time! So Bhapa Sandesh would be ready only with half an hour of your effort! To make this delicious dessert, you need a steel container with lid and a pressure cooker. If you don't have those, use microwave instead.
'Bhapa Sandesh' doesn’t need any introduction to any Bengali. To rest of the people, Sandesh is a specific type of sweet or dessert created with chenna (Indian Cheese) and sugar, sometimes milk with sugar. They are available in many types and shapes. This particular type is made by steaming home-made cottage cheese and that's why the name is Steamed Sandesh. 'Bhapa' is Bengali word for steamed. Sandesh is usually decorated with some dry fruits, or rose petal or saffron streaks. Since I prepared this dish on America's Birthday, I sprinkled with some blue, white and red sugar decors. This is my east met west Steamed Sandesh :) You can use 'Nolen Gur' (Date Palm Jaggery ) or brown sugar in place of powdered sugar, which I tried in last winter and came out awesome.
Recipe of Bhapa Sondesh or Sandesh : for 10 pieces
Whole Milk / Full Fat Milk - 2 liters
Sugar - 6-7 tbsp or as per the taste
Vinegar or Lemon Juice - of a big lime mix with 2 tsp of water.
Cardamom (crushed ) - 2 or Cardamom Powder - a pinch
Chopped Pistachios ( optional ) - 2-3 tbsp
Saffron - few strands ( optional )
1. Boil the milk in a big pan and stir continuously. Once the milk starts boiling, lower the flame. Pour the lemon juice or vinegar. Stir the milk. Once the milk starts curdling, and it changes into chenna (cottage cheese) and greenish water, remove the pan from oven.
2. Leave the chenna / channa in this condition for 5-7 minutes.
3. Put it over a soft cotton cloth / or a cheese cloth (if you have any). Let all the water drain away.
4. Now put this cloth with the chenna under running cold water for 2-3 minutes. This will help to remove the smell of lemon.
5. Hang the chenna along with the cloth on the kitchen tap / faucet for 30 minutes. Please note that the Chenna shouldn’t get too dry. If it gets dry, the Sandesh won’t be soft enough.
6. Now in a big bowl, take the chenna out, add sugar and mix it nicely. Once it gets soft and smooth, add the cardamom powder. Again knead it nicely, until you feel oily on your palm. Add the chopped pistachios. ( you can use food processor for the mixing and kneading )
7. Take a steel container, grease it with non-stick spray or butter. Pour the cheese mixture into the container, sprinkle the saffron strands and cover it with lid. If you don't have any container with lid, take a steel bowl and cover it tightly with aluminium foil.
8. Take a pressure cooker, add 1 cup water and place the container carefully. Cover the cooker's with lid. But don't put the pressure regulator weight over the vent pipe. Let it cook on low to medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes. If you want to avoid the pressure cooking method, take a microwave proof bowl, grease it, pour the mixture and cook it for 5 to 8 minutes.
9. Once it is done, let it cool down first at room temperature. Then put the container into the refrigerator for half an hour.
10. Cut it into the pieces. Bhapa Sandesh is ready!! Sprinkle or decorated with some dry fruits and serve!
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