Sandesh (confectionery)

Sandesh (Bengali: সন্দেশ Shôndesh) is a dessert, originating from the Bengal region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, created with milk and sugar.[1] Some recipes of sandesh call for the use of chhena or paneer (which is made by curdling the milk and separating the whey from it) instead of milk itself.[2] Some people in the region of Dhaka make a form of sandesh called pranahara (literally 'heart stealer') which is softer and made with mawa and yogurt.[3] The Gupo/Gufo style of sandesh from Guptipara is considered by some to be the "first branded sweet of Bengal".[4]

Assortment of sandesh from Kolkata, India
Place of originIndian subcontinent
Region or stateBengal region of the Indian subcontinent
Associated cuisineBangladesh, India
Main ingredientsChhena, sugar, jaggery (gur), condensed milk
VariationsNolen guṛer sondesh, norom pak sondesh, koṛa pak sondesh, various flavorings


Sandesh from Bengal
A popular Bengali sweet Monohara, from Janai, Hooghly.

A sweet dish by the name sandesh is mentioned in medieval Bengali literature, including Krittibas' Ramayana and lyrics of Chaitanya. However, the ingredients of this original dish are not known.[5] This dish was most likely different from the modern chhena-based sandesh, which is made of solidified kheer.[6][7]

Bhim Chandra Nag, one of the most popular sweet shops in Kolkata, home of sandesh, was set up by Paran Chandra Nag in 1826 at Bowbazar.

It is hard to determine when exactly sandesh started referring mainly to the chhena-based sweet instead of the kheer-based sweet. However, it is known that by the second half of the 19th century, sandesh commonly referred to the chhena-based sweet.[8]


A typical Bengali sandesh
Sandesh and other sweets at a shop in Howrah, West Bengal.

Sandesh can be made with the use of chhena or paneer. The simplest kind of sandesh in Bengal is the makha sandesh (makha, meaning 'kneaded'). It is prepared by tossing the chhena lightly with sugar over low heat. When shaped into balls, it is called Kanchagolla (kancha, meaning 'raw' and golla, meaning 'ball'). For more complex and elaborately prepared sandesh, the chhena is dried and pressed, flavored with fruit, and sometimes even colored, and cooked to many different consistencies. Sometimes it is filled with syrup, blended with coconut or kheer, and molded into a variety of shapes such as conch shells, elephants, and fish. Another variant is nolen gurer sandesh, which is made with gur or jaggery. It is known for its brown or caramel colour that comes from nolen gur.


  1. The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Oxford University Press. 1 April 2015. pp. 592–. ISBN 978-0-19-931361-7.
  2. Sinha, Nirmal (2007). "Chhana". In Hui, Y. H. (ed.). Handbook of Food Products Manufacturing, 2 Volume Set. Vol. 2. John Wiley & Sons. p. 643. ISBN 978-0-470-11354-7.
  3. Albala, Ken, ed. (2011). Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-313-37627-6.
  4. Dutta, Rangan (6 September 2009). "Next weekend you can be at....Guptipara". The Telegraph. Kolkata. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  5. Gupta, Meenakshi Das; Bunny Gupta; Jaya Chaliha (2000). Calcutta Cookbook: A Treasury of Recipes From Pavement to Place. Penguin UK. p. 338. ISBN 9789351181491.
  6. Walker, Harlan, ed. (2000). Milk - Beyond the Dairy: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 1999. Oxford Symposium. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-903018-06-4.
  7. Krondl, Michael (2011). Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert. Chicago Review Press. pp. 55–59. ISBN 978-1-55652-954-2.
  8. Banerji, Chitrita (2006). The Hour of the Goddess: Memories of Women, Food, and Ritual in Bengal. Penguin. pp. 117–120. ISBN 978-0-14-400142-2.
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