Thursday, 11 September 2014

Chili Cranberry Kanchagolla/Sandesh

পুজো আসছে 

 There was a time when traditional Bengali sweetmeats were the stars of any culinary gala in an archetypal Bengali househol, each sweet to be served often selected painstakingly by the family patriarch. Mishti Doi, rosogolla, chhanar payesh, nolen gurer kancha golla, the softest sandesh made from fresh chhana (cottage cheese) and the list went on and on – ice cream was almost an outcast. What was interesting is that the sweets could not just come from anywhere; particular sweets were sourced form particular sweetshops. One particular family, illustrious through bequest, of suburban Bengal, my grandmother had once reminisced, entertained guests and passersby alike with tales of how they had gone all the way to Bardhaman for their mihidana and shitabhog, to Chandannagar for Jalbhora sandesh and to Shaktigarh for its Langcha, to serve for their daughters wedding, for many months following the wedding. “Eyi chottore keyu khawayeni (No one in the locality has treated their guests such), the man of the house had boasted. But now the very essence of Bengali sweets have undergone a metamorphosis. Now is the day of Nolen gurer souffle and Baked roshogolla, praline sandesh, butterscoth and black currant sandesh and even liqueur filled sandesh.  And no we are not complaining. 

Another interesting facet was the concept of Bhiyen. Sweetmeat makers would be invited over to the house where they would toss up fresh Dorbesh and pantuas under the strict supervision of the family heads. It was certainly fun, what with the family members filing outside the pandal constructed for the purpose, eagerly waiting for the piping out pantuas, as soon as the first batch was made. The bhiyen tradition has luckily still survived in our family and is certainly one of the prime attractions of any family function, as it not just means gratifying the taste buds, but also a nightlong festivity at the site – music, adda et al. The last time we had a Bhiyen iin the house was during my brother's thread ceremony and I remember a cousin, immersed in intoxicated revelry, had upended a bucket of sugar syrup on another guest.What followed was a sugar syrup fight, a few roshogollas and pantuas were flying around too. All this while B another cousin sat playing his guitar in one corner of the terrace. 

Anyway this year, I have planned to make my own sandesh to serve guests who visit during the pujas. A one man bhiyen of sorts. And I am going to innovate too. Today for instance I tried a chili cranberry kanchagolla (a kind of grainy sandesh). If we can have chili chocolate cake, we can have chili in sandesh too, I reckoned. And the risk paid off. he hint of chili gives the sweet another dimension. However, if you do not fancy it, you could leave it out from the recipe. Here's how I made my sandesh today.

Milk - 2 litres
Juice of 3-4 lemons
Icing sugar (sifted) - 6 tbsp
Dried cranberries roughly chopped - 75 g
Golden syrup - 1 tbsp
Chili flakes - 3/4 tsp
Water - 150 ml
Sugar - 4 tbsp
Slivered almonds and chopped cranberries for garnish

Bring the milk to a boil in a pan and let it boil for a few minutes.

Add the lime juice and continue to simmer on low heat for a few more minutes. The milk will curdle, chhana would form gradually and water separate. Remove from heat and let it rest for 5-8 minutes.

Now strain the chhana through a cheese cloth, squeezing out as much water as possible. Tie the mound of chhana up in the cheese cloth and hang it up to let the remaining water drain out. For an hour at the most.

In the meantime in pan add the cranberries, water, and sugar and place it on heat and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let it simmer until the cranberries soften and the liquid is reduced and thick. Add the golden syrup and let it simmer a little more. Add chili flakes and take of heat.

Now in a bowl mix the chhena and the icing sugar and knead away, pushing and mashing the chhena with the heel of your palm until it is smooth.

Now in a heavy bottomed pan cook the chhana on low heat for 10-12 minutes or until the chhana turns into a soft doughy mound. Take it off heat and mix the cranberry sauce with chhana while it is still hot. Let it cool a little and then divide into 10equal portion and sculpt into ball. Then press them down just a bit. Garnish with almonds and chopped dried cranberries and serve at room temperature.

You could store it refrigerated for 2 days. 3 at the most.

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