For a deliciously different dessert offering, Anjum Anand prepares traditional Indian sweet cheese with a host optional flavourings and decorations
By Anjum Anand
  • Rating:
  • Serves: makes 12
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes plus 20 mins draining time
  • Effort: medium


  • 1 litres full-fat milk
  • 100 -150 g yogurt
  • 45 g caster sugar

Optional Flavourings

  • tsp green ground cardamom
  • pinches powdered saffron, mixed with ΒΌ tsp sugar
  • rose water, to taste
  • vanilla essence, to taste
  • 40 g pistachio nuts, ground to a paste
  • cocoa powder, to taste
  • desiccated coconut, to taste

Optional decorations

  • silver or gold leaf
  • chopped pistachio nuts
  • blanched flaked almonds
  • strands saffron
  • coconut flakes
  • rose petals


1. Bring the milk to a boil over a low heat, and once the milk starts to rise in the pan, stir in the yoghurt. The milk will rapidly curdle to leave curd-like cheese floating in water. If it does not split add some more yoghurt and leave for 20 seconds over the flame.

2. Drain the pan into a muslin lined sieve and discard the water. Run fresh tap water over the cheese to remove any sourness from the yoghurt.

3. Twist the muslin around the cheese to make a tight ball and place a weight on top (e.g. a heavy saucepan). Leave for 20 minutes for the water to drain away.

4. Place the cheese and sugar together in a blender and pulse three times, until the mixture forms a slightly grainy paste.

5. Spoon the mixture into a cold non-stick frying pan and place over a moderate flame, stirring continuously for about 3-5 minutes, depending on how much water was previously removed. By this time, the sugar will have melted and the mixture will start to leave the base of the pan. It should be like soft dough. It will dry more as it cools. If in doubt take a small piece and form it into a small ball: it should hold its shape without being at all hard or cracking.

6. Now the basic mixture is ready. You should make the mithai while the mixture is warm. You can roll into little walnut-size balls for the simplest, purest sandesh or you can add any of the above flavourings to the mixture. I often make the basic mixture and then divide it into parts, which I then flavour separately. In India, we use beautiful handcrafted moulds to make pretty shapes.

7. Decorate as suggested above and chill until ready to eat.

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