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Molasses and Mango Nut Balls (Gurer Sandesh)

Molasses and Mango Nut Balls (Gurer Sandesh)

Raj Chakraberti
Sandesh are the Bengali lifeblood, and there are confectionery shops on practically every corner that prove it. They’re sold in shapes ranging from balls to conch shells and fish. The building blocks are simple: chhana, sugar, and no more than two other ingredients. While scores of varieties are eaten throughout the year, in the colder season nolen gurer sandesh, flavored with molasses derived from the date palm tree, are particularly popular. In the summertime mango (aam) sandesh are common.
Since nolen gurer can be difficult to locate, it’s fine to use molasses as an inexpensive substitute. In the summertime mango (aam) sandesh is also popular. To make the mango variety, follow the same instructions below, but substitute molasses with about ¼ cup of finely chopped mango. If the mango is very ripe, no additional sugar is necessary.



  • Remove prepared chhana from cheesecloth, and turn onto a clean surface or cutting board. Knead for about 5 minutes to create a softer, smoother dough.
  • Place dough in a mixing bowl, and add molasses (or mango, if desired). Mix well with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes, until colors merge. Dough will be sticky but smooth. Taste it for sweetness. If desired, add sugar.
  • Set a medium pan over low heat. Add chhana-molasses dough, and stir frequently for 3 to 5 minutes. The colors will turn a darker brown. Remove dough from heat. While the dough will initially be soft, it will naturally firm up once cooled. Form into four equal balls. Garnish with a pistachio or almond. Alternately, use a mold to imprint a design. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Raj Chakraberti

Raj Chakraberti grew up in the Southern US (Tennessee, Alabama), and is of Indian ancestry. His interest in cooking grew after he moved to New York City in 2002. Being away from his Mom’s Indian homecooking resulted in furiously looking for ways to replicate the foods he grew up with. It was during this time he came to appreciate the books of Madhur Jaffrey and Chitrita Banerji among others. Raj has written for Alimentum Journal, a Literary food journal, Little India Magazine (NYC), Khabar (Atlanta), and India Abroad (NYC).

Photographer Mark Ferri

Mark Ferri is a graduate of Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. He believes in a simple, direct approach that captures the natural beauty and appetite appeal of food. Mark celebrates a life-long passion for food by frequently exploring new restaurants in New York and in Europe, and loves to cook and entertain at his home in the Hudson Valley. Learn more about Mark on his website: http://www.markferriphoto.com/

Stylist Leslie Orlandini

Leslie Orlandini is a chef and an accomplished food stylist in print and television. She has been nominated for both James Beard and Emmy awards and is a veteran of thousands of cooking shows and segments. You can learn more about her through her website: http://leslieorlandini.com/