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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rosogolla – Ancient Bengali Sweet?




Quickly name a Bengali sweet – Bang-comes-the-answer - “Rasgulla”.


Well, that is what most people think, but the ‘unofficial national sweet’ of India officially comes from Orissa. A small village called Pahala, very close to Bhuvneshwar, is supposed to be the birth place of rosogolla. This sweet was earlier known as ‘Kheer Mohon’. It has been a tradition in Orissa to offer Rosogolla to Lord Jagannath, during the festivals. This practice has a recorded history of 300 years. 

The Pahala or original Oriya Rasgulla are however quite different from the spongy, syrupy balls of sweet, we call rasgulla now. For starters, they look different, Pahala rasogolla are off-white to cream or even yellowish brown in colour. They are crumbly in texture and tend to spoil (sour) in 10 to 12 hours time. This may be the reason why the locals in Orissa prefer to have them hot.
Modern white, spongy tennis ball rasgullas are the invention of Sri Nobin Chandra Das of Kolkata, who altered the Oriya recipe to add shelf life to this sweet. His son K. C. Das in 1868, started canning and selling of rasgullas.

Hence, rasgulla is a relatively modern and ingenious invention of India; a dish which was unknown in the world, when the Sepoy mutiny of 1857 took place or when Napoleon was expanding his empire.  Which means it took just 150 years for the sweet to rule the hearts of Indians. This is no small feat, considering Indian culinary heritage that dates back to Vedas and Ayurveda in particular which had first documented Indian food in 15th Century BC. This would then make for an interesting thought as to why Chenna (sweet cheese used to make rasgulla) took so long to be invented when panner (cottage cheese) was known in India since 3000 BC?

Pandit Acharya, in his book, ‘Indian Food – A Historical Companion’ says that India has always been the land of milk, curd and butter but it has always shied away from cheese, unlike most counties of the world.  The reason according to him is that Ayurveda does not encourage Hindus to partake any food item that has been spoilt. This included milk, which needed to become rancid for cheese production.  Chenna and rasgulla making may have been possible only after the Dutch settlers came to Kolkata in the 19th century. The Dutch were expert cheese makers and hence helped in development of rasgulla.


But all the proud Bengalis, do not lose heart, even if we lost our rosogolla to Orissa and Holland, we still have the ‘Sandesh’, or do we? 

16 comments:

Chowder Singh said...

Nice post Sandeep

sandeep chatterjee said...

Thank you for the compliment, Sir.

Tiny bee said...

dada bangalider jonno kichu rakhbey naki? sob char khar hoye gelo. tumi to dekhchi bangalir rosogollar handi mathey vengey diley. well i oppose. considering the fact i debate - Orrissa use to make khir mohan not the rosgolla. rosogolla is the given name by the bengalis. and it is different than the odisa khir mohan. so no body can say rosogolla is odiya.

sandeep chatterjee said...

@ Tiny bee. Very interesting point. Do agree with you partly on this, and trust me, a true Bong like us is most hurt to let go of our pride and identity that Rosogolla is.

This is precisely the reason why i have tried to be as objective as possible, giving the debate enough fodder from history. Rest is up to the readers.

Commenter jonno oshesh dhonnobad janai.

SD said...

1. Chhena was bring made in India for a very long time. Maybe not in Bengal, but certainly everywhere else. The Bengalis simply borrowed the idea of curdling from lime instead of whey as was traditionally done.

2. Please don't use semantics to obfuscate a clear fact. Rasgulla everywhere in Bengal outside of Kolkata is prepared exactly as per the original Oriya recipe. It is called 'Rasgulla' not 'Khirmohan'.

SD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SD said...

Another thing. Who told you that Pahala rasgullas were crumbly? The Pahala as well as the Salepur rasgullas, despite their bigger sizes, can be squeezed a great deal to get rid of the syrup. More so IMO than the Kolkata ones.

Also, while the Pahala rasgullas are supposed to be consumed hot, the Salepur rasgullas are served cold. The Salepur rasgullas come in a variety of sizes BTW, and in two varieties - brown and white!

Even if you can't visit Odisha, at least step out to rural Bengal and try some authentic rasgullas there. They're a lot better than their squeaky Kolkata counterparts.

Rakeysh Ranjan said...

To all Bengali s, go and search in Wikipedia for "Rasgulla". You will find the truth. Your ignorance can not distort the fact that Rasgulla is Oriya invention. Why you people try to make everything yours? Hilsa (Bangladesh), Rasgulla (Orissa) and so on... And after that the hloy crap of pride and blah blah.... Try to give respect to the inventor and place of invention. Rasgulla is very close to Oriya tradition and culinary. And it was never called as KhirMohan....i have been to Orissa(Cuttack) and it is called as Rasulla only....And believe me bongs,the rasgulla in Cuttack tasted better than the rasgulla in KC Das (hugely famous @ Dharamtalla more,Kolkata where some fancy dressed people serving them). Sweets in Bengal are not that good, don't know what you people boast off. Even Sandesh in kolkata's best sweet shops like Nakur Nandy, Sen Mahashay are pathetic. Severy adultarated with atta(or what so) in sweets. If you even been to Bangalore, go to Adiga Restaurant. You will get what i meant to say by quality of sweets.

rakesh das said...

i agree with you ranjan.main problem of bongs that they take credit of everything

Er. Tanmaya K Panda said...

No Doubt Rasagulla is from Odisha. And some day if we prepare noodles and put some curry leaves and challis and say Noodle is origin to South India? . May be Bongs buy the story of white and Brown Rasagulla but its Origin from Odisha . Why these base less discussion? We are Indian and Rasagulla is originated in Odisha part of India and all Indian owned the credit of it. Why we are trying the corrupt a history of own mother India. Please Bong Brother and Sister feel proud to be Indian and respect to the truth and enjoy the Rasagulla as a sweetest dish rather than being so emotional about the origin.
Same thing you are doing for respected Jayedev. He is from Odisha and entire world know the truth but still lot of cry from Bongs. I request you all respect the truth and think for one Nation. Otherwise you will be consider a different race who not have the courage to face the truth.
Rasagulla is origin from Odisha but we all can take the credit may be Kanada, Telugu , Tamil, Bengali or Gujrati or any part of India. It’s a Indian dish and simply we Love it..
Long Live India ! Long live truth !

rakesh das said...

i dont understand why these bongs always make fun of odias and odisha.one day they will claim bhubaneswar is their city ,konark temple,lingraj temple made by bongs.
according to bongs odias cannot be rich person, odias cannot work in it or mnc company.

Amrut Acharya said...

Sandeep. Appreciate your blog. I understand how much of pain and effort it takes being a Bong, to write a blog almost declaring Rasogola as an Odia invention.

But trust me, at times it pains me a lot when people like 'Er. Tanmaya K. Panda' (commented above) have a very generic and 'so what' kind of view. Bengalis have done great good for themselves and the community. I feel Odias have really not done even a bit for Odisha. Had we evangelised the 'Rasgulla' and the many other delicacies and culinary delights of the state, I as an Odia wouldn't have as felt let down. I hope to do more for my state to rise from being almost inexistent. The anecdote being, when I introduced myself as an Odia to a person from another part of the country, she said my Bengali was a little different than usual.

But facts made straight always feels good. Thanks for making me feel good. God bless India, Odisha, Bengal and well every other region...

garima srivastav said...

hey cud u pls provide me the credibility of your blog only if u dont mind,need it to complete up my assignment on rasogulla..i will be very thankful if u provide me required stuff
thanx
gsgarima36@gmail.com

basant said...

There are so many names of Rasagola, these are Rasagola, Rasagolla, Rasgola, Rasgolla, Rasgula, Rasgulla, Roshogola, Roshogolla, Rosogola, Rosogolla. In Odia 'Rasa' means Juice 'Gola' means Store. So Rasagola are the pure Odia village words. Rasgolla are prepared in different colours and different ways in Odisha. When anybody has to go their relatives home, taking of Rasagola is must with them. Each and every Odia family have the idea of preparing Rasagola in their own way, hence the method of preparation of Rasagola is imbibed in each Odia’s mind. In some festivals when Odia people are worshiping, they are using Rasgolla as Prasad from the old ancient age. At the time of Niladribije during Car Festival, Lord Jagannath had offered Rasagola to Goddes Laxmi for convincing her to move to Sri Mandir, which is a very old tradition (more than 900 years old). Most of the villagers of Pahala village near Bhubaneswar in Cuttuck-Bhubaneswar road are professional Rasagola business men from the last few decades, which were the Rasagola makers in the last few centuries. In Odisha, from a small footpath tiffin center to large five-star hotels you find Rasagola everywhere. People of Odisha enjoy their happiness by distributing Rasgolla to their neighbors and relatives after getting success in any occasion. During British ruling period, Odia people were going to old Calcutta and were engaged as cooks, because Calcutta was one of the business center of India at that time. Bengali people might have got the idea of preparing Rasgolla from the Odia cooks. So there are so many proofs and evidences behind the origin of Rasgolla form Odisha. Now a days some cleaver people are trying to theft the ancient cultural heritage of Odisha i.e. delicious cuisine of Odisha ‘Rasogola’. Hence Odisha Govt. should make patents on their own delicious recipes i.e. Rasagola, Chenapoda, Dalma etc., otherwise the cheats may theft these recipes as their own.

basant said...

There are so many names of Rasagola, these are Rasagola, Rasagolla, Rasgola, Rasgolla, Rasgula, Rasgulla, Roshogola, Roshogolla, Rosogola, Rosogolla. In Odia 'Rasa' means Juice 'Gola' means Store. So Rasagola are the pure Odia village words. Rasgolla are prepared in different colours and different ways in Odisha. When anybody has to go their relatives home, taking of Rasagola is must with them. Each and every Odia family have the idea of preparing Rasagola in their own way, hence the method of preparation of Rasagola is imbibed in each Odia’s mind. In some festivals when Odia people are worshiping, they are using Rasgolla as Prasad from the old ancient age. At the time of Niladribije during Car Festival, Lord Jagannath had offered Rasagola to Goddes Laxmi for convincing her to move to Sri Mandir, which is a very old tradition (more than 900 years old). Most of the villagers of Pahala village near Bhubaneswar in Cuttuck-Bhubaneswar road are professional Rasagola business men from the last few decades, which were the Rasagola makers in the last few centuries. In Odisha, from a small footpath tiffin center to large five-star hotels you find Rasagola everywhere. People of Odisha enjoy their happiness by distributing Rasgolla to their neighbors and relatives after getting success in any occasion. During British ruling period, Odia people were going to old Calcutta and were engaged as cooks, because Calcutta was one of the business center of India at that time. Bengali people might have got the idea of preparing Rasgolla from the Odia cooks. So there are so many proofs and evidences behind the origin of Rasgolla form Odisha. Now a days some cleaver people are trying to theft the ancient cultural heritage of Odisha i.e. delicious cuisine of Odisha ‘Rasogola’. Hence Odisha Govt. should make patents on their own delicious recipes i.e. Rasagola, Chenapoda, Dalma etc., otherwise the cheats may theft these recipes as their own.

prof prem raj pushpakaran said...

prof prem raj pushpakaran writes ... let us celebrate national rasgulla day!!