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Monday, August 29, 2011

Pineapple Sandesh

Sandesh is a sweet snack originated and still very popular in Bengal region (present independent Bangladesh and West Bengal, a province of India ).

It is created with milk and sugar Some recipes of Sandesh call for the use of chhana (curdled milk) or paneer instead of milk.

Some people in the region of Dhaka call it pranahara (literally, heart 'stealer') which is a softer kind of sandesh, made with mawa and the essence of curd .

Sandesh is also mentioned in the Bollywood film 'Devdas' (2002) where both Hindustani and Bengali cultures were portrayed.

This is my modified version of a recipe given to me by one of my very good friend Bhadra K. This is very easy to make and not very sweet.

Total cooking time 35 min, cooling and decorating time about another 35 min, so you will have about 40 pieces of delicious dessert ready in about little over an hour.

You can make them ahead of time for a party and freeze them. Just thaw them in the fridge overnight before serving.


* 1 (24 oz) container of Ricotta cheese

* 2 sticks of unsalted butter

* 1 (20 oz) can of crushed pineapple drained and all the liquid squeezed out

* 1 can of sweetened condensed milk

* 1/4 cup of sugar

* 2 containers** filled with dry non fat milk powder (**same empty container of ricotta cheese)

* Few drop of mixed fruit or pineapple essence (available at local Indian grocers)

* 2-3 drops of yellow color (careful, don't make it too yellow) I did not have yellow color so I used 1/2 teaspoon of saffron strands crushed and soaked in milk. Adding color or saffron is optional.

* 1/4 cup of sliced or crushed unsalted pistachios for garnish


* Melt one stick of butter in a deep heavy clad stainless steel pan.

* Add ricotta cheese, mix well.

* Cook on med-high heat for 7 min with intermittent stirring. (cover in between when not stirring, as it will splatter and can burn you if not care ful)

* Then add another stick of butter and turn the heat down to medium and cook for another 7 min.

* Add condensed milk, mix well and keep cooking on medium heat for another 2-3 min.

* Add 2 container full of dry milk powder and mix well, keep stirring and cook for 1 more min.

* Turn the heat off and add drained crushed pineapple, mix well.

* Add 1/4 cup of sugar and mix well. (I did not have yellow color, so I added saffron soaked in milk at this point)

* Transfer the content in a microwave safe bowl.

* Cover with saran wrap and cook it on high power in microwave for 5 min covered. (don't have to stir at this time, but watch it so it does not boil over)

* Then carefully remove the cover and cook for another 5 min, stirring in between every min.

* Remove from microwave when the content is not sticking to the bowl any more.

* Let the batter cool completely mixing in between.

* When you can touch it and handle the batter with bare hands, you can add essence, and yellow color (if did not already add saffron).

* Mix well.

* You can be creative and give any shapes. Some of them I put some in heart shaped mold and some I just made in to oval balls and I just pressed the remaining batter in a 8 x 12 dish and cut in to squares.

* Garnish with pistachios and store covered in refrigerator. (If freezing the pieces, I usually put them in paper cups and layer them in freezer safe airtight container, separating each layer with wax or parchment paper)

* Serve individual pieces Chilled.

Hint For my blog readers in India:

In US we often use Ricotta cheese in place of Mava or Khoya (which is readily available in India) You can follow same recipe using Khoya, you may not have to cook it as long, because the Ricotta cheese becomes little more watery while cooking.

Information on Sandesh source :

Recipe modified by Surekha from a recipe given to her by her good friend Bhadra K.

Photographs by Surekha.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Aloo Matar Ka Jhol: Spicy Potatoes and Peas Stew:

"Bana lo aloo matar ka jhol" I still remember the street vegetable vendor yelling on top of his lungs while trying to sell potatoes and peas stacked up on his four wheeled hand pushed cart.

To this day it is a common way of selling vegetables in Indian market, despite of recent emergence of new fancy grocery stores and food malls.

Ladies love to bargain and hand pick the veggies from these vendors, where he or she would weigh the vegetables in old fashion hand held weighing scale (Tarajoo) by placing the iron weights, marked in grams and kilograms, which are very often not fairly calibrated.

This is a typical morning or evening scene of typical vegetable market of Agra Where I grew up. Or the vendor will come to your house pushing this cart and you buy the veggies right at your door steps.

Yes, I grew up in Agra, Uttar Pradesh India, this is where I learned most of my cooking.

The spicy stew is commonly known as "Jhol" in several parts of India and this spicy potato and peas stew is called "Aloo Matar Ka Jhol" in Agra. My mom used to make this side dish very often...and to this is my favorite dish. I love it with rice and side of yogurt...yummm !!

This recipe yields about 8 servings.


* 4-5 potatoes

* 10 oz pack of frozen peas

* 1 large yellow onion

* 1" piece of ginger

* 4 cloves of garlic

* 4 tablespoon of oil

* 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

* 1 bay leaf

* 1/2 teaspoon of black mustard seeds

* 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds

* 1/4 teaspoon of asafetida

* 2 tables spoon of coriander powder

* 1 tablespoon of cumin powder

* 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala

* 2-3 tablespoon of cayenne pepper powder (or to taste)

* 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

* 2 tables spoon of Paprika powder

* 1 tables spoon of Mango powder

* 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice

* Salt to taste

* 1 and a 1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes from a can

* 6 cups of water

* 1/4 cup cilantro leaves chopped


* Boil potatoes, peel and cut them in to large pieces, set aside.

* Empty the peas in microwave safe container and sprinkle some water.

* Microwave the frozen peas for 3 min.

* Set aside.

* Grind garlic, ginger in a food processor and set aside.

* In the same food processor finely chop onion.

* Heat oil in a pan.

* When oil is hot, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds.

* When the seed crackle, add bay leaf and asfetida.

* Add ginger garlic paste and saute until slightly brown.

* Add chopped onions and saute until translucent and light brown.

* Add all the dry spices and salt except some paprika and cayenne pepper and stir fry for 30 sec.

* Add crushed tomatoes from a can.

* Cook for 1 min, add water simmer until boils.

* Add potatoes and peas and simmer to desired consistency.

* Add remaining paprika, cayenne pepper and lime juice.

* Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

* Serve hot with chapati, Naan or Basmati rice.

Recipe Modified by Surekha from a recipe by her mom Mrs. Kasturben S.

Photographs by Surekha.
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