Orissa, not Bengal is where rasgullas were first made. The Bengalis greatly patronised the sweet. Thanks to canning, rasgullas today reach not just the length and breath of India but the whole world
THOSE SOFT, spongy, white balls drenched in frosen sugar syrup can make any mouth water. Last week I had gone to meet Suprio, one of my ‘Bengali’ friends at Noida. He was in a festive mood, since ‘Durga Puja’ was round the corner and he treated me with my favourite Bengali ‘mithai’, the ‘rasgullas’.
I was delighted by the sight of those sweet delicious ‘mithai’. Reading my face Suprno offered information. He said that the delicious sweets were canned ‘rasgullas’ available in all general stores across the country.
Returning to Ghaziabad questions flooded my mind. I could not help wondering how this highly perishable sweet can be canned and still retain its taste and flavor. These could compete with any rasgullas I had eaten in Kolkatta.
On reaching Ghaziabad I visited a famous sweet shop specialises in ‘Bengali sweets.’ I struck a conversation with the ‘halwai’.
To my utter surprise he told me that rasgullas, which most of us think are from Bengal actually have its origin in the neighboring small town in Salepur city, Cuttack in Orissa” In West Bengal it became popular during the British Raj. Brahmin cooks from the neighboring Orissa were employed in rich Bengali households. Their culinary skills delighted Bengalis. Soon rasgullas became the most sought after sweet dishe in Orissa.
Later when I shared this information to Suprio, he provided me with another interesting piece of information. He said, “It is believed that Bengal’s adaptation of ‘rasgullas’ was first made by Haradhan Maira.
But in 1868 one Nabin Chandra Das, who owned a shop in Baghbazar, Calcutta - modified the recipe by boiling small balls of cottage cheese in hot syrup which resulted in succulent spongy sweet with a distinctive taste of it own.
Later, his son K.C.Das started canning it, making it reachable through out the length and breath of the country”.
No doubt the real taste of ‘rasgulla’ is when you eat them in ‘Kulladh’ (earthen pots) and get the real taste of India. But in the wake of commercialisation and globalisation, things are changing very fast and ‘rasgullas’ have now crossed the territorial boundaries of West Bengal and India.
Sweet have always been and will be essential part of Indian cuisine. Each and every state of the country has its own distinctive sweet delicacies, which can be seen on the food map of the country. How ever, ‘Bengali Mithai’ has its own unique characteristic, which makes it distinct from other sweets.
And hey you guys! The next time if your better half gets cross then dump those old bouquets and packets of chocolates and try ‘Rasgullas’, the exceptional sweet which is free from calories and will act like a ‘cupid’, bringing the derailed relationship back on track.