My neighbors are moderately nice people. They didn't utter a word when I doused a part of their lawn along with mine with a weed killer and burnt their grass in the process. I haven't yet hollered out to them for dire help but they oblige every time I call up and ask them to peep & check if I have shut my garage door.
Theirs is an Indian family of grandparents, parents and a little daughter. Of all of them I am most thankful for this little girl who is the exact same age as Big Sis S. Big Sis S can pop over to their place pretty much any time and is always welcome, so is their little girl in my house. True to her nature Big Sis S also devours unfamiliar food with much joy at their house.
Auntie (the grandmom) is a fantastic cook. The only problem is she doesn't understand Hindi or English and I don't speak their language, so communication is difficult. She sends over Dosa and Idli and unknown-to-me fried goodies, cooked at her place and taught my Ma to make the perfect fluffy Idli. How my ma communicated and got the recipe I don't know, but I have learned to not ask for the recipe or re-create anything she sends over and instead just enjoy the delicious food.
The only teeny-weeny problem in this scenario is what do I do with the empty plates. My Ma had always taught us that a plate, bowl, whatever that had been filled with food should never be returned empty and so I feel obliged to reciprocate by sending back the plates with some edible items. However what little I know of them, I have gathered that they are very traditional when it comes to food. They rarely, very rarely eat out and enjoy only their kind of home-cooked food.
I have sent some of my food over before but have never received any kind of acknowledgment and I didn't want to burden them with stuff they will probably never eat. My over enthusiasm might put a stop to future Dosas and vadais and idlis I felt. So I usually send store bought Indian Sweets.
A week back we again got a supply of soft Masala Dosa and a fabulous chutney. We weren't going to get Indian Mithai anytime soon and I had a tub of Ricotta. So I thought of making a quick sandesh, framed on a recipe I got from here (Oops this was the page that had the recipe, I don't see the page anymore). I am usually lazy and have no time to make Chena(home made paneer) and then the sandesh, so this was a quick shortcut which I loved. Still no acknowledgment but the sandesh(or sondesh) with carrots or gajor sandesh are a quick fix delicious dessert for lazy souls like me and for maybe many of you too.
My Ma would scoff at this and say I could have as well mixed ricotta with condensed milk and have it as it is, because anything with Condensed Milk is bound to taste good. But then again I am no puritan and neither is this recipe for such souls.
Try Vee for a very nice almost step-by-step pics of making the chena(paneer) and then the real sandesh
A very fresh un-cooked recipe of Sandesh here
Makes at the most 8-10 sweets
In a microwave safe bowl mix 1 cup Ricotta Cheese with 1/2 cup Condensed Milk and 1/2 cup of Mawa/Milk Powder. Add a little cardamom powder or rose essence.
Microwave for 2 mins at full power
Add this mix to a non-stick Kadhai on the Stove top
Add 2/3 cup of grated baby carrots(will cook faster). For ordinary carrots you can cook the grated carrots with 2% milk in the microwave and the add to the mix here
Stir this mix till it thickens and the carrots are done. Takes about 20-25 minutes for the amount in this recipe. If you see that the mix has thickened but the carrots haven't cooked add a little 2% MIlk and some Condensed milk and continue stirring
You will know when it is done when the mix starts leaving the side of the Kadhai
Pour on a greased square bowl or plate and allow to cool
If you have the sandesh mold and want pretty shapes do while it is warm
After I had cooled it and cut in squares I wanted to top them with a layer of Gajar Halwa. Didn't have enough grated Gajar though and so microwaved 1/2 tsp of Ghee in a microwave safe bowl for 20 secs. To that added 1/2 Cup grated Carrots and microwaved for 1 minutes. Next added 1/2 Cup Condensed Milk to it and microwaved for 2-3 minutes. Some kheer kind of thing was created which was used to top the sandesh.
Follow this recipe to make a quick microwave gajar halwa and use that as a topping instead
Top each individual sandesh with a thin layer of gajar halwa and serve
Option 2: Follow this recipe to make a Bhapa Sandesh or Steamed Sandesh. Add grated carrots to the mix. Top with the Gajar Halwa and serve
Trivia: Bengali sandesh or sondesh is famous all over the world. But there is one more sandesh famous in Bengal, it is "Sandesh" a popular Children's magazine started by UpedraKishore RayChowdhury (among the first proponents of children's novels and books in Bengal), grandfather of Satyajit Ray. Later Sukumar Ray and his son Satyajit Ray along with their family members Lila majumdar and Nalini Das revived this magazine. Since almost everyone in the Ray family were excellent story tellers and authors of children's books(Sukumar Ray and Lila Majumdar being my favorite), this magazine was a treasure of literary gems. More from wiki.