Friday, December 11, 2015

Bhapa Sandesh / Steamed Sandesh

Baghbazar...the place I grew up...there was a mishtir dokan / sweet meat shop called “Swadhin”. They claimed that they have invented the steamed sandesh. Some people also called them diabetes sandesh, as they were made without any added sugar. In their shop this steamed sandesh was not in the display, but only a hanging paper board indicated in colourful words over plain white background that “ekhane steamed sandesh pawa jai” (steamed sandesh is available here”. When asked for them, they used to open the big fridge which stood in a corner of the shop and took out a big tray out of it.

bengali steamed sandesh recipe

Those milky white, chilled sandesh were a delight for the eyes. Chilled and firm in their shapes. And only if you have eaten it, you will know how moist, soft and creamy they used to be. Melt in the mouth should be the exact phrase to describe its delicateness. I have eaten a lot of steamed sandesh all around Kolkata...but liked none of them. For me, for my whole family and everyone I knew there, swadhin was famous for its steamed sandesh. The best if you ask me!!

baked sandesh recipe

Although the Bhapa Sandesh I have grown up eating is not sweet I made myself a sweet version of that. I have used pistachios, khoya / mawa and condensed milk to make my sandesh, as well as fresh homemade chana / chena. The freshness of the ingredients is the main secret of this recipe. The fresher you use the more good flavour you will get. Besides feel free to omit the sugar if you want. I just used sweetened condensed milk to satisfy the sweet tooth!!

steamed sandesh recipe

Bhapa Sandesh / Steamed Sweat Meat

bhapa sandesh steamed sandesh in microwave recipe

2 cups of chana
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
3 tbsp of condensed milk (Add more if you need more sweetness)
2 tbsp khoya / mawa 
A handful of pistachios - very very finely chopped 
A few strands of saffron


Take the chana / cottage cheese and start kneading it with your palm. Knead it well for 5-7 minutes or until you see a nice dough has formed and your palms are greased with fat released from the cheese. 

Make the mixture for Bhapa Sandesh:
In a bowl mix in the cottage cheee, cardamom powder, khoya / mawa, pistachios and condensed milk.
Take a steel tiffin box or a micro-oven safe bowl. Make sure it has a lid. Grease the box with ghee. I had also placed butter paper at the bottom of box. Pour the mixture into the box. The box should be filled 3/4 th of its quantity. With the back of a spoon even out its top level.

Steam the sandesh:
You can do bhapa sandesh two ways, in micro-oven and in pressure cooker.
Take a baking / roasting tray and put the box in it. Fill 1/4 th of the tray with water. Tighten the lid of the box and put into oven at 400F for 35-40 minutes. The sandesh should rise and when poked with a skewer it should without any liquid residiue. Leave the box in the oven for more 10-12 minutes.
For the pressure cooker, you need to have a stand. If you don't have one just use a heavy bowl which stay at its place even after you have poured water into the cooker. Put the box on that stand. Pour water upto 1/4 th of the hight of the box.
Cove the lid and pull out the venting bulb, Cook on medium heat for 25-35 minutes. After that put off the flame. When the cooker is cool enough to handle take the box out of the cooker and check.

Leave the box in the fridge overnight. Next day flip the box onto a plate and then cut the sandesh in the size you want. Garnish with saffron strands and chopped pistachios. Serve chilled.

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