Sondesh: Background information when reading The Newlyweds

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The Newlyweds

A Novel

by Nell Freudenberger

The Newlyweds
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  • First Published:
    May 2012, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2013, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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Beyond the Book:
Sondesh

In The Newlyweds, when Amina returns home to Bangladesh, her mother picks up a box of freshly-made sondesh from a reputed vendor to bring to Amina's aunt.

sondesh Bangladesh shares the Bengali language with the Indian state of West Bengal. Bengali sweets (mishti) are famous all over South Asia and sondesh is particularly well-known. Like most other Bengali sweets, sondesh is a milk-based treat made from fresh cheese (paneer).

The word sondesh (or sandesh, as it is spelled in the rest of South Asia) is both singular and plural and means "messages." The sweets, it is said, got their name because the dry confections were often sent along with the bearers of good news.

According to a paper presented at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery in 1999, "'Mukha mishit korao' - 'Sweeten your mouth' - is the phrase used when offering [sondesh] to guests. The number, quality, and provenance of the sweets are an index of a guest's status. In remote villages, where sweets are not ...

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