We, Bengalis are exceedingly sensitive regarding our culture. We simply love to get offended if the shworolipi of a Rabindra-Sangeet isn’t correct, or if the shorshe (mustard) in Bhapa IIlish doesn’t have enough kick. We love to tell people that the correct way to say “flowers” in Bengali is “phool” or you are a “FOOL”. So when the government of Odisha claimed that Rosogollas originated in Odisha instead of Bengal, of course all hell broke loose. Adamant to the core, we Bengalis fought back once again to protect what is rightfully ours. Several research committees were set up by both states; departments of science and technology started to trace back the earliest geographical location of roshogolla.
For those of us happily unaware of the situation the arguments put forth are as follows.
According to Odisha, rosogollas have been made in Puri for over 700 years as a traditional offering to goddess Lakshmi at the Lord Jagannath Temple. It originated as Kheer Mohana which evolved into Pahala Rasgulla.
Several stories of invention of rosogollas can be found in the history of West Bengal. According to many confectioners, Nabin Chandra Das came up with the idea of boiling cottage cheese in sugar syrup but failed since chhana kept separating in water. He then found out a way to use the enzyme of the cottage cheese and then mastered the art of making rosogolla. As a business strategy he then taught the art to his contemporaries. This is how Bengali rosogolla spread all over West Bengal. Later the son of Nabin Chandra Das, Krishna Chandra Das canned the rosogollas making it possible for K.C Das Rosogollas to sit beside you on your flight out of the country.
Some historians claim that even earlier than Nabin Chandra Das’s version, Haradhan Moira, a sweet-maker of the famous Pal Chowdhurys of Ranaghat had invented rosogollas by accidentally dropping balls of chhana into boiling sugar syrup. This was later adapted by Nabin Chandra Das.
However the crux of the matter is that not all sweets round and made of Chhana can be called rosogollas. The Pahala version of what they call rasgulla is larger redder and sweeter than our beloved Bengali rosogolla . Even Bengal has its fair share of variations when it comes to rosogollas. In fact the recipes vary between different confectioners across the city. Also the canned K.C Das rosogollas are nothing but a shadow of the perfect rosogolla s of Bengal. It is safe to say we Bengalis love to have more than one rosogolla s at one go; hence we prefer a lighter and less sweet version of rosogollas.
Also all self-respecting Bengalis have their own preferences of the type of rosogolla s- some like the spongy version, some like the softer version which melt in your mouth with an explosion of juicy sweetness, while others only prefer nolen-gurer rosogolla or the ones infused with jaggery. Bengali cuisine altogether has its unique identity in the global food scene for being extremely elaborate and rich in spices, and without sweets, Bengali cuisine is simply incomplete.
Being at the receiving end of years of jovial taunts as to how we Bengalis are all about our rosogolla , let’s hope the Bengal government and the committees don’t give up without a fair fight.