Balaji - Chandan

Balaji – Chandan

Last update: 2024-03-11

I like to affectionately refer to it as “death by sandalwood.”

These are listed at Ephra World as so-called “Flora Incense” sticks, which is understood there as a type of stick incense alongside Masala and charcoal/perfumed (“dipped”). When I asked what exactly the term “Flora” means, I was told that they pay attention to the “special purity” of the ingredients and that only “natural ingredients” are used. I am very sceptical about the reliability of this categorization. In principle, a retailer has little choice but to rely on the manufacturer’s word, and “Flora Incense” is not a protected term. If you filter for “Flora” in the shop, you will get, among other things, a variety of very cheap incense sticks, with names like “Baby Powder” and from brands that are not exactly known for the naturalness of their products.

Balaji – Chandan costs €2.75 per box, the unit here is not grams, but pieces; 15 sticks per box. That’s 18ct per stick. Burning time: 35–45 minutes.
They look almost like dipped charcoal sticks, but upon closer inspection, you can see that they also contain wood fibres or something similar. The flame produces sooty smoke, which may be
an indication of additives such as DEP. However, essential oils, resins and other natural products can also cause soot.
Given the price range, I very much doubt that production can be done without synthetic scent oils.

But I can say one thing with certainty: These sticks smell exactly like my sacred piece of first-class sandalwood, which I keep in a glass vial and only bring out on very special occasions.
So I don’t care if their smell is natural or created in a lab because I LOVE it.
It is a pure, sweet, slightly pungent and yet balsamic-creamy sandalwood scent – pure joy.
They smell best when I let the smoke waft through the whole house; From a room away, the smell opens up to its full glory. When I come back to the room where the stick is burning, I smell an alcoholic-sharp note like isopropyl alcohol (disinfectant) for 2–3 breaths, but it mixes so well with the sharp sweetness that I don’t notice it long enough to find it irritating.
After burning, the scent remains in the room for several hours.

For me, the perfect sandalwood addictive kick for little money. If you are allergic to fragrances, you should be careful here. Sandalwood purists probably won’t be happy with these incense sticks either.
Rating: 4.6

Update – 2024-03-11
A while ago, Steve posted his review of Chandan on Incense in The Wind and wasn’t particularly impressed. Coincidentally, he had sent me two sticks of his Balaji – Chandan when we exchanged incense, and so I was able to compare. In fact, I found his to be significantly worse than the one I bought, but at least not as bad as he initially rated it. He has since raised his rating from 21 to 31, but emphasizes the varying quality of the sticks in this pack. I seem to have gotten a good batch.
To me, the sticks of his pack have a volatile-cosmetic note, somewhat like the alcohol smell of aftershave. They were also less sweet and rich. Even the ashes look different.

I also recently learned from a post on r/Incense that there is also a “mild” version of Balaji – Chandan. The box look confusingly similar, the only difference is that this other variant has the addition “MILD” after the writing “PURE MYSORE SANDAL STICKS”.


“Death by Chocolate Pudding” recipe


  • 1l milk
  • 40-50g (2 tbsp) cane sugar
  • 60g cornstarch
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • a pinch of salt, chilli

Alternatively, you can use plant milk, but if it has a very low-fat content, I recommend adding a small dash of vegetable oil (pumpkin seed oil has proven to be surprisingly tasty) to the milk. 
I also like to use couverture instead of regular chocolate because it is usually cheaper and contains less unnecessary ingredients. The higher the cocoa content, the better. Comparing is worth it.

Heat about 2⁄3 of the milk, add salt and – if you like – a pinch of chilli to the pot and heat it.
Meanwhile, mix the starch and sugar (so it will clump less) and use a whisk to mix in some of the remaining cold milk and stir until smooth. (I use the rest of the cold milk to “wash” the settled starch out of the bottom of the bowl.)
Do not unwrap the couverture. Smash it with the smooth side of a meat mallet or similar to break the chocolate inside into small pieces. Then carefully open the package so you can pour out the chips.

When the milk is hot (but not boiling!) stir the starch mixture again and add it to the hot milk. Stir, stir, stir. Wash out the bowl with the remaining milk and add it to the pot.
When it starts to thicken, turn the heat down, stir a little more and when it has thickened well, start adding in the chocolate little by little. At this point, you should turn off the stove or, in the case of old models that stay hot for a long time, even take the pot off the stove. Stir until all the chocolate chips have molten.

You can fill the pudding in screw-top jars and keep it in the fridge for 4–5 days max.

Bon appétit. 🙂

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