Sunday, October 25, 2009
Every month this group of food bloggers get together, choose a book to read, and post what the book inspired them to cook. I have been quite inactive in this group for a while now, only because I live in a place which is famous for its beaches and food, but not for it’s libraries!
This month it was my turn to suggest what we could read, and the popular choice was The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan. This also meant that I could be an active part of the book club again.
This book deals with the “migrant Indian experience” in the U.S. The book explores the lives and relationships of the three mother-daughter pairs. Three Indian women come to the U.S. and become very close friends. Their daughters grow up with the “Hindi-Bindi Club” which is how they refer to their mothers’ friendship.
Kiran, Preity and Rani, the three daughters, are American by birth and upbringing and do not share the friendship that their mothers do. They also find it difficult to relate to many of the Indian customs and traditions which their mothers value.
In the book, the three daughters are grown up and leading their own lives. All three return home to their families for short holidays, each one with problems of her own. Their mothers’ lives have also seen changes in the meanwhile.
Their various experiences and a wedding back in India, among other things, helps them discover a new friendship with each other. They also get to re-evaluate the relationships with their mothers, come to terms with their pasts and find ways to deal with their problems.
Apart from a reasonably good read, Monica Pradhan’s book also has some very interesting recipes, one or two in each chapter, which are woven into the story.
In this post, I chose to re-create (with slight changes), the Chocolate Sandesh Truffles from this book. This a sort of fusion of a traditional Indian sweet in a western dessert presentation.
These truffles are made from chocolate flavoured chenna, and coated with crushed pistachios. I also rolled some of these truffles in crushed cashewnuts.
For those not familiar with “sandesh”, this is a soft milk cheese which is made by adding an acid (usually lemon juice or vinegar) to boiling milk. When the whey is drained what is left is the soft cheese. When this cheese is packed solid and cut it is called paneer.
In the Indian state of West Bengal, this milk cheese (called chenna here) is kneaded till soft and used to make a variety of sweets of which sandesh is one.
2 cups chenna
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp powdered cardamom
1/4 cup finely broken pistachios (or cashewnuts)
unsweetened cocoa powder for coating truffles (optional)
melted chocolate for drizzling
If you are going to coat the truffles in cocoa powder, mix the crushed pistachios and cocoa pwder together and keep aside.
Mix the chenna, cocoa powder and sugar. Cook this mixture in a non-stick pan over low to medium heat, untill the mixture becomes creamy and leaves the side sof the pan. As you stir, the mixture will start rolling onto a ball in the centre.
Add the cardamom, mix and take the pan off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool till you can comfortably handle the chenna-cocoa mixture.
Pinch of small pieces and roll into truffles. Roll the truffles in the crushed pistachio powder (or cocoa-pistachio powder) to coat well and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or aluminium foil. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Allow the chocolate to set and serve in decorative paper cups.
This recipe makes about 2 dozen truffles. You may need to refrigerate the truffles if you live in warm climates, like I do.
You can see what the other members have been inspired to cook from this book here.