Twitter is buzzing with
#RasagolaDibasa and why not!
With plethora of ‘days’ which get celebrated, its apt to keep a day reserved for the ‘King of all sweets’
Rasagola has always been an integral part of Odia traditions and culture. 12th century(to be precise) was when, offering Rasagola to Goddess Lakshmi as a bribe for her to open the main door of the temple became a ritual. As the story goes, she had locked the main entrance, angry at her husband Lord Jagannath for not taking her on a vacation and going with his sibling instead (sounds like every household’s issue!)
This tradition is followed to this date and a mock argument is staged on the last day of the Rath Yatra (Niladri Bije) where the priests of the respective idols fight out till the priests of Lord Jagannath provide an earthen pot of the best Rasagola! Truly a dish which can appease the Gods.
While there has been a lot of hue and cry in the last few years over where it originated. Both the states involved – Odisha and West Bengal are fighting it hard with arguments and evidence claiming the origin. Odisha took it a notch further and even applied for GI (Geographical Indication) of this famous and irresistible sweet!
But no matter what our extremely talented, educated Rabindra Sangeet loving neighbours say. Rasagola originated in Odisha.
After doing quite a lot of research on this myself, these reasons led me to to believe the same:
1. The origin of Rasagola can be traced back to a tiny village called Pahala
There is confusion when it comes to the real origin of Rasagola, but I strongly believe it was discovered in the village of Pahala which lies between Cuttack and Bhubaneshwar. The village cowherds produced ample milk and some of it went to waste due to lack of storing facilities. They used to throw away the milk after it got curdled, but somehow they learnt from a priest in Puri to use this curdled product known as ‘Chena’ and add semolina(suji) to make squeaky balls (FYI this is what it is referred to in English because of the sound it makes when you have a bite of this pure bliss)
2. The Secret Traveled Far and Wide
The secret of the sweet also traveled across the border with the exceptional cooks of Odisha who used to be employed by rich landlords of West Bengal. People in those ages too traveled for better employment opportunities and with them they also took the lesser known recipes of Odia food.
3. Documentation of the Ritual of Bachanika
The fact that the ritual of Bachanika (where the priests of Goddess Lakshmi stop the entry of Lord Jagannath) has been followed since the origin of Puri Temple (around 12th Century). Though some scholars challenge citing lack of archaeological proof, the ritual has also recorded in another scripture called ‘Niladri Mahodhya’ dated anywhere between late 17th Century and Early 18th Century.
4. Will the Real Nabin Chandra Das Please Stand Up?
A famous claim by a renowned Bengali Confectioner Nabin Chandra Das’s family is that it was he who invented this recipe in 18th century. He was born a Moira (surname for halwaee or sweet makers) but the reason he changed his surname to Das is not very clear. Maybe his entrepreneurial skills were a flop here and he found a better incubator in Calcutta. And moreover, there are about 4 other claims within Bengal claiming the recipe to be theirs, so first Bengal needs to fight it out among themselves before pointing fingers at us!
5. Show the Records!
If this famous dish was brought down from Bengal for the Puri festival as a gift to Lord Jagannath, it should have been mentioned in some prominent scripture in Bengal. The lack of the same is baffling! I’m sure Bengalis (with all due respect) would never leave out something like that.
Today is #RasagolaDibas which is always the last day of Rath Yatra every year.
And frankly, in this debate and tug of war – the real winner is the one eating this heavenly sweet! So go out and get some rasagolas (you also get diabetes friendly ones now!), forget your diet plan and take a bite of this awesomeness!
[Contributed by Rachit Kirteeman – Chef turned Entrepreneur, he is the quintessential foodie who digs anything remotely close to Odia Food]