Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Kesar pista sandesh- saffron scented cheese fudge

I am back with another sweet treat!! This is my third recipe in a row with Saffron. This is a definite Hat trick. Isn't it?

Sandesh or Sondesh is a soft melt in the mouth fudge made of fresh cheese. This cheese fudge is a gift from Bengal, the Eastern state of India. Unlike the Sweets of the western parts of India, Bengali sweets are made with curdled milk or chenna. For Bengalis, no celebration is complete without Shondesh. I recently read that, this sweet treat is also called as the "Pranhaara" which means the heart stealer. 

The word "Sandesh" has a clear meaning. It means news. As this fudge is an integral part of the Bengali festivities and jubilation, Sandesh became the bearer of good news creating an atmosphere of merriment and celebration in all Bengali households.

I would be lying if I said that I grew up eating Sandesh. As a matter of fact, I tasted Sandesh only a couple of months back. And that too by accident. It was an unusually hot day and I found myself with a large quantity of curdled milk. I usually end up making Paneer when something like this happens. But I was in an adventurous mood on that day and I decided to try Sandesh. And the cheese fudge was ready before I knew it. After that, I decided that I would make this delightful fudge for Dassehra. I did make it as well. But then I couldn't post it because of my unexpected trip to India. It's sad that I couldn't post the recipe for Dassehra or Diwali. However, this fudge doesn't need any special occasion. For Sandesh can turn any occasion a special one.

Kesar pista Sandesh:
Preparation time: 25min+draining time
Cooking time- 10-15min
Makes- 15-20pieces

Milk- 2ltrs
Juice of two lime
Confectioners sugar-1/2 cup
Saffron-10-15 strands soaked in 1/2 a teaspoon of milk
Cardamom- 6-7 pods finely powdered.
Ghee- a teaspoon for greasing.
Shelled pistachios: 8-10, sliced

  • Heat milk in a thick bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Keep stirring the milk so that the milk doesn'the burn. Allow the milk to simmer for a minute before taking off the heat.
  • Let the milk to cool for two to three minutes before adding the lime juice gradually a teaspoon at a time. Once the milk is curdled, you will see the milk solids and the whey separate.
  • Line a colander with two layers of cheese cloth and set it down in the kitchen sink. Pour the curdled milk into the cheese cloth lined colander. Gather the edges of the cloth in your hands and squeeze out the whey. 
  • Gently rinse the milk solids under running water so that the sour taste from the lemon juice is removed. Tie the ends of the cheese cloth to the kitchen faucet and allow the cheese to drain for about 30mins to an hour.
  • Unwrap the drained chenna and transfer it to a clean plate/tray or a work surface. Knead the chenna with the heal of your palms for 10-12min or till smooth. Add the sugar, saffron mixture and the cardamom powder and knead for 3-4mins more.
  • Transfer the chenna mixture to a thick bottomed pan or wok and cook over low heat while mixing continuously. 
  • Continue mixing till you see the chenna leaving the sides of the pan. This will take abut 10-12mins. Ensure that the mixture is not completely dry. The mixture should be a little moist.
  • Take the chenna mixture off the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Divide the mixture into 15-20 portions. Grease your hands with a little ghee and shape each portion into a ball and flatten it slightly with your palms. 
  • Garnish with sliced pistachios and serve immediately or Store in an airtight container and refrigerate and consume within two days of making it.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Kesar Kaju Katli- Saffron Scented Cashew Fudge

Finally!!! I managed to squeeze some time off from my busy Deepawali Schedule to post this recipe. But before I proceed with my Ramlings, Let me wish you a very Happy Deepawali and a Very Happy New Year to all of you!!!

Now coming to my ramblings, The past three weeks has been extremely busy, exhausting, and lots of fun. It all began when S asked us accompany him on an official trip Bangalore. Since Purvi also had her mid term break, I decided to join him. And before I knew it I was flying to Bangalore. My three week stay in Bangalore was hectic. But it was great fun. This time, I spent a week with my Sister and her family. Watching Purvi and my niece play and connect was pure bliss to say the least.

Since I returned only two days prior to Diwali, I got busy with the preparations almost immediately. This time, I made a large batch of Boondi Laddu, Mysore Pak, Murukkus, Namak Paare and Kaju Katlis. Making all these dishes in a short span of time was a difficult and tiring. But the delightful expression on Purvi's face when she saw all her favorite dishes made my effort seem worthwhile. 

As Kaju Katli is a favorite with all of us, I decided to include this in my Diwali menu. This fudge has only four basic ingredients and can be put together in minutes. All you have to do is keep a few pointers in mind when you are making it. With this, you can have the popular, delicious, gluten free and vegan Kaju KAtli right in your home. So shall we go ahead and see how it's done?? 

Kesar Kaju Katli Recipe:
Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 30-40min
Makes- 25-30 pieces

Saffron- a large pinch
Warm Milk- 1-1/2 tbsp
Cashew nuts- 2 cups or 500ml
Sugar- 1 cup
Water- 1/2 cup
Ghee- 1tbsp

  • Soak the saffron in warm milk for two hrs and set aside.
  • Dry roast the cashew nuts till hot. DO NOT let it turn brown. Keep aside to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, transfer the cashews to a dry blender jar and grind them to a fine powder. Try and powder them in one go. Pulsing can make the cashews clump up and turn pasty. If there are a few big pieces that not ground, then sift the powder in a sieve. But avoid over grinding the cashews.
  • Grease a plate with a tea spoon of ghee and set aside.
  • In a thick bottomed pan, mix the sugar and water and cook on low heat till the sugar dissolves. Add the soaked saffron and allow the mixture to simmer for two minutes.
  • Stir in the cashew powder and mix well. Cook the mixture on LOW HEAT while mixing continuously. 
  • Continue mixing for 15minutes after which, the mixture will start to thicken. Keep mixing for another 4-5mins. At this stage you will see that the mixture will reach a thick paste like consistency and start leaving the sides of the pan. To check if the mixture is ready, take a small portion of the cashew mixture and roll it in your with your fingers. If the mixture is cooked, then it will form into a dough a dough almost immediately. Take mixture off the heat at this point.
  • Transfer the cooked mixture to the greased plate and allow it to cool slightly. Grease your hands with a tea spoon of ghee and gently knead the dough for 4-5mins or till the mixture turns into a smooth dough.
  • Place the mixture between two layers of butter paper and roll it out to 3-4mm thickness. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into desired shapes. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for upto a week. 
  • The cooking time will vary depending on the quantity you are making. 
  • Any kind of flavorings can be used to make this fudge. The Saffron can be replaced with cardamom, rose essence or Screw pine water.
  • For a vegan version, the ghee can be replaced with oil.
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