Over the last few months, Jehanne and I have become good friends and you probably remember her delicious empanadas. I met her less than a year ago after I started blogging. When we chat on Facebook, it often feels like I know her since childhood and she is not someone I’ve never met. When she asked me to guest post a Bangladeshi recipe on her popular blog, The Cooking Doctor, I was thrilled and immediately accepted the invitation. Many savory and sweet recipes came to mind and it took me few days to decide what I should present to my wonderful friend and her readers. Finally, I thought what could be better than Bangladeshi sweet Gurer Sondesh, a fudge made of fresh, homemade ricotta, for my sweet friend, Jehanne.
Bangladeshis spend a lot of time thinking, preparing and eating food. For Bangladeshis, food is all about love and cooking and feeding evokes great sense of pride. Bengalis are also very proud and famous for sweets or ‘mishti’ as we call it.
Mishti occupies an important role in Bangladeshi culture regardless of religion and region. It is customary to distribute sweets during festivals, social and religious ceremonies. Besides the many festivals that color the life of Bangladeshis, we always find a reason many times in a year to distribute sweets – birth of a child, an engagement, a new business, passing of an exam…you get the idea. No hospitality is ever complete without serving sweets.
Chana is key to authentic Bengali sweets, so it is very important to know the tricks and tips of making soft chana. If gur, also called molasses from date sap or jaggery, is not available, feel free to use regular or brown sugar.
Gurer shondesh is one of the easiest yet authentic mishti in my book. Although I am not promoting frozen food, my busy life calls for a lot of freezing. Like any Bengalis, I like to serve sweets when I have guests and friends over, so I often freeze these shondesh(well, only if there is few pieces of leftover). Once thawed in the refrigerator, the taste does not deteriorate but the texture hardens a little. If you are time pressed like I am, feel free to freeze them airtight in a ziplock bag and wow guests when they show up in a short notice.
- 2 cups chhana
- 2-3 sticks of cinnamon, half inches each
- 1-2 green cardamom
- ½ cup gur a.k.a molasses/jaggery
- ¼ cup sugar
- Knead chhana cheese on a clean surface with your heel of the hand by pressing it across the surface until smooth. About 5-6 minutes.
- Break the gur into small pieces.
- In a thick bottomed or non-stick pan, heat gur in medium flame for about a minute. Add chana.
- Add sugar and stir constantly until the mixture is very sticky and a mass pulls away from the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Remove from heat. Let cool.
- Divide into even portions to make smaller bite size flatten balls or use molds to give different shapes. You may also use a small cookie cutter to give different shapes to shondesh.
Use a thick bottomed or non-stick pan.