Just back from Cameron Highlands, there ought to be strawberries...and more strawberries in my cooking. A typical mango eating Bengali that I am, its a bit difficult to fall in love with the tartness of strawberries, however healthy it is. I rather enjoy its beauty....it is so passionately red. If you are at Cameron Highlands, you cannot resist buying few boxes....standing right in the middle of the strawberry farms. So fresh, juicy red they are.....On the lap of the nature, amidst the greens, little red mermaids peeping through as if. There are quite a few strawberry farms who allow strawberries to be plucked as you wish, put into boxes, weigh and then sell. The senior at home was too excited and bought two full boxes saying he will have them with cream. Back to Singapore, he totally forgot all about it. Back from office, he is more happy with his little doze of wine and nuts. If wifey tries to remind, she is nagging. Junior eats no fruit other than apples and grapes. So what to do?
In this scenario I thought of an alternative use of the red beauties...paying due respect to its beauty, quality, health benefits and off course its price tag. Why not prepare some sweetmeats Bengal is famous for....I thought! I perhaps had seen or heard somewhere about STRAWBERRY SANDESH. So zeroed in on this recipe in the morning. Health is not in a friendly mood with self....so thought this quick n easy recipe should be fine with me. It took 45 minutes to 1 hour to prepare them.
Milk[fresh] : 2litre
Vinegar : 1 tbsp
Strawberry : 6-7
Sugar : 1/3 small cup
Cardamom Powder : 1/2 tsp
Refined Flour : 1tsp
Red Food Colouring : A Pinch
Condensed Milk : 2tbsp
Water : 1/2 cup
Ice Cubes : 4-5
It is recommended to use fresh milk to make chena/paneer. Pour 2 litre of milk in a deep bottomed vessel and put for boil. Once the milk comes to boil, lower the heat. Add the vinegar.
As soon as the milk curdles, add the ice cubes. This is done to prevent the chena/paneer to harden further. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Now strain the whey water through a thin, white cloth. Tie and hang the cloth for about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile let us prepare the strawberry glaze. Cut the pre washed strawberries into small pieces. Put 1/3 rd of them in a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water. Put for boil.
Once it comes to boil, add the sugar leaving 3 tbsp. Stir continuously. As it gets sticky, its done. Let it cool.
Now take out the chena from the cloth, add a spoonful of sugar, two strawberries, refined flour and a pinch of red food colouring.
Blend to make a smooth paste. Transfer into a wide mouthed bowl. Mash with your right palm for about 10 minutes. Heat a wok with 1tsp ghee. Add the paneer paste and cook till the sides comes out. Add the cardamom powder and mix well.
Transfer the sandesh mix to a plate. Let cool a bit, add 2 tbsp condensed milk to the mix and knead well for 2-3 minutes. Grease your palms with a drop of ghee. Shape into round balls and then flatten slightly with your palms. Transfer the sandesh into a lightly greased tray / plate. Pour little strawberry glaze on top.
Eat it warm and fresh or serve chilled as you wish. Sweet lovers will love to have it anytime of the day!!