“Botsorer Aaborjona, dur hoye jak, Esho esho”. Let go of the clutter of the yester year, welcome the new year. Thus sang our poet Tagore, the Nobel laureate. Leave behind all the disappointments and negativity, let those tears dry out, let us welcome the first month of the new year like a breath of fresh air. We celebrated the Bengali new year recently.
There are signs of new life in my garden too. From between the dead and decayed twigs, I see new green shoots poking their heads. Crocuses are everywhere now. Their mauve petals proudly cupping the precious ‘Saffron’ inside. The promise of the new..
A special occasion calls for a special treat. I created these ‘Shawndeshs’ for this special day. ‘Sandesh’, ‘Sondesh’ call them whatever you may, these little cheese fudge are very close to a Bengali heart. Childbirth or birthday, weddings or anniversary, new job or new house, Shawndesh takes the centre stage.
Traditionally cheese is collected by separating the milk and the whey. The cheese is then mixed with sugar or jaggery. Additional flavours are added sometimes using fruits or even chocolates.
This mixture is then shaped either by hand or with the help of fancy molds. The formless cheese mixture is then given a new identity, a new look. Local flowers, fruits, leaves, whatever the folk artist chose as his design for the molds.
Decorate with saffron or raisin or enjoy them as is..
Makes 22-24 pieces. I have consulted the recipe from this beautiful blog ‘A Homemaker’s diary’. A few modifications later here we are, Aam Shawndesh my way.
Ricotta cheese ( Saputo ) 2 cups
Khoya ( Milk solids ) 1 cup, crumbled
Mango pulp 1 cup
Sugar 3 tsps
Cardamom powder 1/4 th tsp
Saffron strands 1/2 tsp
Ghee 1 Tbsp
Drain the Ricotta cheese of the water through a cheese cloth. Add the mango pulp and Khoya. Put this mixture in a deep pan on low-medium heat. Keep stirring so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Slowly the water will dry out and it will leave the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes.
Take it out of the flame. Add the sugar and cardamom powder and mix evenly. Wait till it comes to room temperature. Cover it with Saran wrap and place it in the fridge for about an hour.
Apply some Ghee on your palm and gently knead the dough just to get it all smooth. You can divide them in small balls, decorate with saffron strands and enjoy them.
If you have molds, grease the insides and keep them ready. Pinch a tablespoon of dough, knead them once again inside your fist to get a smooth even ball. Press this inside the mold, even out the sides. Carefully tease it out. Decorate with saffron strands and enjoy.
Khoya or milk solids is available in Indian grocery store or the World food section in Superstore.
Traditionally Shawndesh is not too sweet. Feel free to adjust the sweetness to your liking. Take into consideration the sweetness of the mango pulp.
Giving them shape in the mold could need a bit practise. I kept Q tip handy to grease the inside of the molds and to clean them after use. If the imprint did not come out as desired, do not despair. Reshape it into a ball, press firmly inside your palm and try again.