Can you please help me with the recipe of kheerer sandesh? The message on Facebook read. My grandma used to make amazing kheerer sandesh for any Pujo at home. I would love to learn how to make the perfect ones.
And before I realise, I am gripped by honey sweet nostalgia and return to a halcyon autumn morning in our Karimganj home.
Maa Durga has just returned to her abode in the pristine hills of Kailash, the Bijoya celebrations, visiting homes of neighbours, friends and family to touch the feet of elders and seek their blessings (Dada is just old enough to be invited by uncles for a warm kolakuli embrace) are drawing to a close, Maa has started reminding me that there’s homework to be completed before school reopens in a couple of days.
But not today.
Our household this morning is a cauldron of activity, it’s Kojagori Lokkhipujo, the most auspicious of all the Lokkhi Pujos in the calendar and Grandma and Maa are feverishly busy preparing for the Pujo this evening.
The marigold streamers, cheerful yellows alternating with resplendent oranges, are being strung between the pillars of the daalaan, Manikkaka atop the ancient ladder, Dada helping him with the flowers that rest in a white bag on the red oxide floor.
I head to the kitchen now to check what Grandma and Maa are doing.
A dekchi, battered and well past its prime, full of milk sits patiently on the earthen ounun. Grandma, in her immaculate white cotton tangail, her silver tresses nearly tied up in a bun, occasionally gives the milk a loving stir.
Are you making payesh ? I enquire.
No, Grandma responds, patting my hair.
Then ? My curiosity asks.
But without waiting for an answer, I run out of the kitchen.
I return a good while later.
Grandma is still persevering on the pot of milk, the milk, though has largely reduced.
How much longer Grandma ? I can no longer hold my excitement.
Patience, my princess. Grandma advises.
Before I run out again.
The milk, when I am back to the kitchen, is almost dry.
Grandma carefully takes it off the oonoon and effortlessly moves the milk dough to a kansa thala.
It is then that I notice the stone moulds and everything becomes as clear as the sun.
This is Grandmas special kheerer Sandesh in the making for Lokkhipujo, I was too naive to not have guessed it.
Kheerer Sandesh. Loving reduced milk fudge. Just a hint of green cardamom. The original Sandesh before the Portuguese introduced us to the magic of chhana ?
And if you are a voracious Sandesh lover as I am, here are Sandesh recipes you would want to try for sure.