Aataa diye Phool Sondesh/Custard Apple flavoured Flower Sandesh

A wish or urge, particularly a sudden one. Doing things in the spur of the moment.
A few days ago, on a very popular facebook foodie page, Chef at Large, a young girl, living in Mumbai, inquired if there was anyone from Kolkata who could make and deliver sweets to her parents, as a family tradition, on the auspicious occasion of Bijoya Dashami, which is the very last day of the popular festival in West Bengal, Durga Puja.
After I looked at her post, surprisingly, no one was able to help her out. 
I felt amused that in such a big metropolitan city, no one was able to offer help by making and delivering sweets to her parents which would really bring happiness and joy to both of them. 
On checking back the facebook page I saw the resignation on this young lady as she drew a sad smiley :( on her post. 
That was the moment when 'Impulse' got the better of me and I jumped, like a Daniel come to Judgement, to offer myself in the mission to make something and have it delivered to her parents.
I offered a range of cakes and cupcakes that I had baked many times over but she suggested preference to some Bengali traditional sweets over the bakes' series. The traditional Bengali sweets do not come under my domain and comfort zone and I wondered if I had bitten more than what I could chew by accepting her requisition. 
I made two samples out of which she chose the one with the rasagulla wrapped in rose petal shaped sandesh and flavoured in custard apple.     
It took me the whole day handcrafting these delicate sweets and help from literally everyone from my family. My mother very sweetly helped me in all the steps and most importantly kept my doting daughter, Vaanya, away from all this as she thought that the chenna was her play doh and wanted to play with it! It was 8:30 pm when I finally finished shaping all the petals. The basket was arranged by my mother and Masi and these delicate beauties were laid in Banana wrappers and into the basket. My husband drove me through a rainy and jam packed Puja night to deliver the baskets to the girls parents at 10:30 pm. 
The sheer surprise and the joy I saw on the faces of her parents made each second of my hard work worthwhile. There was a little lovely note from their daughter and I am sure they felt really proud of their doting daughter's gesture of keeping up the family tradition of offering sweets in Dashami.
It was a crazy day for me but the most memorable one as the incident not only brought joy to everyone around but also, through this divine intervention, kick started a long awaited desire to start a tiny business from home that has been on the cards, but procrastinated, for quite a while. 
This is my passion that now, through this incident, has ushered me into a new chapter and certainly this is what I would love to do for a living day in and day out.  

Ingredients : I made 50 pieces for the order. But here I am giving the proportion for 10 such pieces.
1 litre milk1/4 tsp citric acid/1 tbsp lemon juice1 cup sugar3 cups water1 Custard apple/Aata(Bengali)/Shareefa(Hindi)Food colours-yellow and raspberry redChopped Pistachio for garnishing


Rasagulla : 
Heat milk in a pan and let it come to a boil. Add citric acid/lemon juice and stir well. Soon you will see the milk curdling and whey separating. Wait till the whey separates well. Remove from heat and using a muslin cloth drain the chenna(curdled milk) from whey. (Do not throw whey, reserve it for using to make soft chapati dough or make yummy dal/gravy.)
Hang the muslin cloth to drain excess water for half an hours. Remove and put on a plate. Cover with another plate and put a heavy object to drain any remaining liquid for about half an hour.
Take out the chenna and knead with the heel of your palm till smooth and reaches dough consistency. This requires patience and strong arm muscles and can take around 10 minutes.
Make 10 round shaped balls out of the kneaded chenna. 
These were made for the order and hence are more in number
Take sugar and water in a pressure cooker and let it come to a rolling boil. Lower the chenna balls in it very carefully and close the lid with the whistle on. Wait for 2-3 whistles on medium heat and then switch off the gas. Let the heat dissipate naturally.
Open lid and take out the soft spongy chenna balls or rasagullas from the syrup and keep aside to cool.

Custard Apple flavoured chenna : 
Peel the custard apple and put the pulpy part surrounding the seeds through a strainer. With the help of a spoon, mash it well to get the custard apple pulp. This again requires patience and time. Keep aside.
In a non stick pan, add the custard apple pulp and mix in some sugar(optional).
Add the kneaded chenna to it and on low flame keep stirring continuously to avoid burning the chenna.
The chenna will gradually change colour and will become lumpy. This should take 10-15 mins of continuous stirring.
This is called 'Makha' or 'Ready to be moulded' stage.
Remove from heat and allow to cool enough to handle with hands.

Take the rasagullas and cover them with the custard apple flavoured makha/cooked chenna. 
With a toothpick dipped in the yellow food colour, mark on top of the chenna wrapped rasagullas.

Add little raspberry red food colour to the remaining custard flavoured cooked chenna to get a baby pink colour. 
Take small balls out of it and shape them as petals.

Attach to the sides of the chenna wrapped rasagullas.

Arrange 5 such petals on the sides giving it the shape of a flower.

Garnish with chopped pista.

I made 50 such pieces and arranged them in a basket for my maiden venture.

Wishing all readers a Shubho Bijoya and Happy Dusshera

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