Nolen Gurer Sandesh (Sondesh) /Cottage Cheese Fudge with Date Palm Jaggery
‘Nolen Gur’ —-the sound of the name is enough to make all Bengalis sentimental. The Date palm jaggery is an intrinsic part of Bengali life and is synonymous to winter in Bengal. Sandesh or the way Bengali’s call it Sondesh- its history dates back to medieval time. According to WIKI “A sweet dish by the name Sandesh is mentioned in medieval Bengali literature, including Krittibas’ Ramayana and lyrics of Chaitanya. However, the ingredients of this original dish are not known. This dish was most likely different from the modern chhena-based sandesh, being made of solidified kheer.”
According to blogger of Hamare Rasoi “ Legend has it that in early 18th century a sweet shop owner from Bengal called Bhim Nag had mastered in the art of preparing shondesh and after tasting which the Lady Viceroy of India was smitten by it and from there after there was no looking back for this sweet “
According to WIKI “It is hard to determine when exactly sandesh started referring mainly to the chhena-based sweet instead of the kheer-based sweet. But it is known that by the second half of the 19th century, sandesh commonly referred to the chhena-based sweet. The Portuguese influence may have led to introduction of cheese (i.e. chhena) in sixteenth century.”
Whatever the history, it surely stood the taste of time. There is hardly any Bengali who doesn’t like Sandesh of some kind. Bengali’s await the whole year to taste this winter delicacy. Winter is incomplete without Nolen Gur or date palm Jaggery. Go to any sweet shop and you will see Rasogolla, Kanchagolla, Jalbhara (Sandesh with juicy center) or bhapa sandesh (steamed Sandesh): all made with Nolen Gur. The Gur is also sold on its own to be consumed at home with for making pithe/puli or to make Payesh. With changing time, there are also certain changes in the availability of the Gur. Now in many famous shops like Balaram Mallick sell them all through the year-they are actually very good in terms of quality. One can buy Nolen gur in Tube from Bhiswa Bangla Stores in Kolkata or the airport- well I didn’t like them much but still it is getting wider audience which matters at the end of the day.
I get my store of Nolen gur from Kolkata. We have kind friends- ‘S’ da who make sure that my store is never depleting of Nolen Gur. I can never have enough of’ nolen gur er sondesh’: such is my love affair with the sweet. I make the plain version of the Sandesh and also the version mixed with coconut. Both of these sweets are one of the most requested sweet dishes from my kitchen. once I had put my Sandesh pictures on my Facebook page I got quite a number of requests to share the source of molds as well as the recipe. Few of my friends have personally got in touch with me to post the much awaited recipe on my site. Hence for you all…. Here it is