Bengali Food Recipes, Dessert

Rose Sandesh ~ a rose-flavored mithai recipe

Rose Sondesh, Rose Shondesh, Rose Sandesh, Rose Mithai
The soft goodness of Sondesh with the flavor of real rose…

Sondesh is a type of sweet treat that is typical to Kolkata or (Calcutta, if you please!) And it’s notorious for it’s popularity among Bengalis! It is high in protein because it’s made with cheese or ‘chhana’ or ‘chena’ that is derived from fresh whole milk. The added delight to this is the number of flavors it comes in. Sondesh can be consumed as a treat just by itself, a snack or even dessert. I do know people in Calcutta who literally need to eat one sondesh a day after their meal or that meal remains incomplete! But then again, we have to agree that in Calcutta sweets are not only popular, they are readily and very easily available in the city. Outside Bengal, it is known as ‘sandesh‘.

The Festive season has long started (mine started with Durga Pujo) and I have been desperately trying to fish out some time to make a festive recipe and write a blog post on it. Durga Pujo came to an end and I thought to myself, “Maybe something for Diwali?” All I knew was that ‘something’ would be a sweet or ‘mithai’. Come on! Indian festivities and no sweets??!! That’s sacrilege.

Thanks to the constant inspiration I derive from fellow bloggers and updates on my Facebook page, soon enough I found myself gazing at the Diwali special post by a blogger friend and a photographer-par excellence, Dolphia. (She blogs at storyofcooks.com) I knew right then I wanted to make Sondesh. Sadly, it would not be Rose Sondesh, as she did, since there was no time to order dried rose petals on Amazon and wait for that. This was Saturday morning and Sunday would be Diwali! I decided on Saffron Sondesh. But the whole idea of Rose Sondesh was delightful, so-very Diwali and it lingered on in my mind, a part of my brain still hopeful.

With my list of things to make Sondesh, off I went to the local Persian grocery store for shopping (that’s closest to home). And you know how they say, when you really want something the universe conspires to bring it to you? There I found, in the spices section, a beautiful little pack titled ‘Dried Rose Buds’. My eyes gleamed. I was having a ‘Eureka’ moment! It seemed like it had very few buds but a lot of dried rose petals. Yes! That’s exactly what I needed!

And, as they say, the rest in history. 🙂

Thanks, Dolphia, your post gave me the final push me to do this.

So, I used Dolphia’s recipe but tweaked it a tad bit, especially for the rose syrup. Instead of making a syrup, I made a lightly sweetened rose water. This works, too, as my Sondesh has an amazing rose flavor. You can do either.

{Makes: 20-25 approx.}

Ingredients you will need:

200 ml water

4 tbsp sugar (granulated or castor)

5 tbsp dried rose petals and buds

1 gallon organic whole milk

3 limes, juice freshly squeezed

100 ml water (or more)

2-3 drops of ghee/clarified butter

very little dried rose petals for garnishing

Pistachios, blanched and finely sliced

Method for cooking:

1. Prepare the rose water by bringing the 200 ml water to boil. Add dried rose petals and buds with 4 tbsp sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and cover, let the mixture reduce.

2. After the mixture has reduced to half (or a bit less) turn off the heat and keep aside. This will be thick but not as thick as a proper sugar syrup.

3.In a small bowl, mix lime juice and water and keep aside. (You may need a little more lime juice)

4. In a big saucepan, bring the milk to boil on medium-high heat. (Milk can easily stick to the bottom of the pan so be sure to keep stirring) Boil the milk for 15-20 mins till it has reduced a bit. When the milk is still at rolling boil, turn off the heat and remove the pan from heat.

5. Add the diluted lime juice and give it just one stir and let it be. The milk will coagulate within a few seconds.

6. Cover a colander with a cheesecloth and gently pour the coagulated milk in it. The milk whey will drain out while you have the fresh cheese in the cloth. Now, holding the cloth at the top with the cheese in a lump at the bottom, gently press down on the cloth. This helps to drain out the excess water. Be gentle with this process, it may take 3-4 mins for the water to drain out completely. Once done, you will have a well-drained, freshly made soft cheese.

7. On a flat surface, knead the cheese and sugar into a dough thoroughly for a few mins. You may also use a food processor to do this.

8. In a pan, on medium heat, add the cheese dough and rose water, stir and mix well. Cook this mixture till there all the water has evaporated (the mixture will also release water). But make sure it is not completely dry. It has to be dough-like for you to shape the sweet treats! Once done, remove from heat.

9. Grease hands with 2-3 drops of ghee and pick out lumps of the dough and shape them with your hands. To get a uniform amount each time, I used an ice cream scoop and filled half of it.

10.Garnish with pistachio and rose petals. Your Rose Sondesh is ready to sweeten up your day!

Rose Sondesh, Sandesh, Rose Mithai for Diwali festival
Dried Rose petals and buds ~ perfect to make authentic rose water or rose syrup
Rose Sondesh, Sandesh, Rose Mithai for Diwali festival
a lightly sweetened Rose water
Rose Sondesh, Sandesh, Rose Mithai for Diwali festival
Freshly made cheese or ‘chhana’ or ‘chena’ from organic whole milk. For best results, use a cheesecloth to drain the cheese off all the water.

Rose Sondesh, Sandesh, Rose Mithai for Diwali festival

Rose Sondesh, Sandesh, Rose Mithai for Diwali festival


Rose Sondesh, Sandesh, Rose Mithai for Diwali festival recipe
ishing everyone a happy and prosperous Diwali filled with laughter, family, and friends! Make these mouth watering Rose Sondesh for your loved ones to fill your celebrations with all that flavorful sweetness!

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