Can we ever say ‘no’ to desserts? Yes, we heard you shout 'never' in unison. Indians have a special penchant for desserts and it is well reflected in our cuisine as well. Every region in India has at least one signature sweet-treat worth writing home about. Desserts in India not only cheers us up on a personal level, but it also brings us together. They have a special meaning in our traditions and culture. One such sweet- ‘sandesh’ is something that can make any Bengali go weak in his or her knees.

Sandesh is another sweet delight, belonging to the region which is quite well-known for its sweet-tooth. Bengal has given birth to some of the most splendid Indian desserts which are unparalleled in innumerable ways. Sandesh is a flavourful confection made with milk and molasses or sugar. Contrary to the popular belief, rasgulla was not the first invention done by the people of Bengal, its predecessor was the sweet delight sandesh. The name of the sweet, quite similar to the Hindi word ‘Sandesh’ means news or message. Indians have always practiced the tradition of sending sweets or fruits as a gift to families and friends, hence Bengalis thought this could be an interesting way to send their wishes, regards or a good news. 

A Sweet Tale Of Sandesh

Surprisingly, Portuguese were the ones who gave us the idea of cottage cheese, commonly known as ‘chenna’. However, the sweet didn’t come to life at that time. It is believed that it almost took a century to develop into a confection that we today know as sandesh. As we are quite aware that Bengal lies in the part of the country which is quite humid and hot, this factor led to the wastage of unsold milk. The intense heat used to turn the milk sour and tasteless leading to no use. To counter this unnecessary wastage, they mixed the ‘chenna’ with molasses or sugar and made a fine paste out of it. Then they stepped-up the game by adding khoya (milk fudge) and cardamom powder with it, which finally resulted in an amazing tasting batter known as “makha sandesh”. This batter was shaped as Sandesh, today, you will find lots of beautifully-shaped sandesh, with intricate designs and carvings. Nowadays, sandesh is also infused with syrup, additionally they could also be blended with coconut or kheer, and molded into a variety of shapes such as conch shells, elephants, swans and fish.

Sandesh is one of those sweets that you can easily spot in every mishti shop in Bengal, or any Bengali sweet shop across the world. This simple yet extravagant sweet has found its own place in the hearts of Bengalis. Thus, if you ever get the chance of getting your hands on one, you should definitely savour it. Sandesh will surely entice you with its rich flavours.