Bengal is the home of Indian sweet manufacturing, and of all Bengali sweets, sandesh is the most famous. It is prepared from only two ingredients: homemade curd cheese and sugar. Use one-quarter part sugar to the volume of kneaded cheese curd. Sandesh is very simple to make, provided you prepare the curd cheese properly. You should also knead your cheese to the correct silky-smooth, neither-wet-nor-dry texture. Sandesh must be cooked in a scrupulously clean pan over very low heat. This sandesh derives its orange flavour from the orange oil contained in orange rind, which is added during, and removed after, cooking.
PREPARATION AND COOKING TIME: about 30 minutes
YIELD: 16 – 20 pieces
fresh homemade curd cheese from
2½ kg whole milk at least
½ cup caster sugar or icing sugar
one 7.5 cm strip of orange rind
edible pure silver or gold foil (optional)
Knead and bray the curd cheese on a clean surface until it is silky smooth and creamy. Gather into one lump and calculate its volume with measuring cups. Measure one-quarter that volume of sugar. Combine the cheese, sugar, and lemon rind and again briefly knead and bray the cheese.
Place a heavy-bottomed pan on the lowest possible heat and, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon, cook the cheese for 10 to 15 minutes or until its surface becomes glossy and its texture slightly thickens.
Scrape the sandesh from the pan and remove the orange rind. Press the sandesh onto a lightly buttered tray into a flat 1¼cm thick cake. Cool to room temperature. Cut the cake into 2½ cm squares. When completely cool, store in an airtight container in a single layer. The sandesh can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.