Rasgulla: A blissful way out of every sorrow

Almost everyone has experienced the delightful taste of Bengali sweets from around the world. Rasgulla. The very name reminds us about its sweet, melt-in-mouth, unique taste. Only a few ingredients are required to prepare the sweet. Mainly Chhena and sugar. The method of making cottage cheese from curdled milk is used to make Chhena. The only difference is that, Chhena isn’t absolutely dry. Chhena is kneaded until its soft. Next we add flour, make round balls out of the dough and put it to boil in the sugar syrup. Don’t be surprised, it’s Rasgulla. Ready to serve and eat. It’s hard to believe, but once upon a time in this Universe the existence of Rasgulla was a myth.

Before 1868 AD, people spent their entire lives without this delicacy. When China’s Ma Huan visited India, in 1431 AD, he didn’t forget to write about the sweets of bengal. Even the Chandimangal Kavya and the other 16th century literature mentioned about Kheer, Rabdi, Modak and Sandesh. As a matter of course, during this era, Diabetis must have been prevalent, too. According to 16th and 17th century European travellers like Varthema, Barbosa and Caesar Frederick there was an abaundance of food in Bengal. Whether it was food grain, sugar or spices. Everything was availabe with ease. According to them Bengal was an amazing place to stay.

In the 1600 AD the French traveler and physician Bernier had a similar experience. Seeing the varieties in vegetables, pulses and meat he praised Bengal’s fertility in his writing. But, all of them have missed something? Something round, something snowy, something filled with syrup? Take your dirty minds out of this. We are speaking about Rasgulla. Rasgulla wasn’t mentioned in these. The reason was due to the non availability and incompetence to find the ingrediants used to make Rasgulla. The Arya’s revered the cow as a sacred animal. And the milk obtained from the cow was sacred too. Therefore, the curdling of the milk was considerd inauspicious. Letting it happen intentionally, wasn’t acceptable atall.

In 1498 AD, Vasco Da Gama arrived in India and after the Portuguese victory over Malacca, in 1511 their traders would often come to Bengal via the Sea. In 1528 AD, the Portuguese started building factories in Chittagong. Soon the Portuguese and the Eurasian population grew over 5000. The portuguese loved cottage cheese. This created an opportunity for Chhena to be recognised. Gradually, people let go of their objection to curdling milk in the faceof the Portuguese’s love for cottage cheese. In Bengal confectioners are called Moira. By the arrival of Chhena they had an ingrediant to experiment new sweets. When people started making sweets out of “Chhena” there was a race among the confectioners. They created their best sweets with their creativity and art.

Satyajit Ray and Rabindranath Tagore made Bengal proud with their film and poetry. On the other hand Nobin Chandra Das made Bengal taste fame with his Rasgulla. Nobin Chandra Das was a Moira who opened a new shop in Bagh Bazaar. In 1868 AD, he boiled Chhena balls in sugar Syrup to invent Rasgulla. There’s one thing, yet to understand without beautiful girls promoting it, or advertisements over Radios or Television how did this sweet spread its glory, all around? It happened so that, one day, a rich Marwari, Bhagwandas Bagla and his family stopped before Nobin Chandra Das’ shop. One of his kids was thirsty. For a man who was devoted to sugar in every form, hospitality was in his nature. How could he have offered only water? One piece of Rasgulla was unavoidable. Bhagwandas couldn’t help himself, while the his son ate the Rasgulla, whithout sharing it with him. He requested for one, as well. When he tasted the Rasgulla, the trader was thrilled. Instantly, he got many boxes packed. So that others could enjoy this deicacy, as well. Destiny can never be averted. Name and Fame have been with Rasgulla since then.

So this was the story of Rasgulla, Bengalis assert their right on it. But these thoughts don’t bother the world. No matter where he Rasgullas come from and how much they always seem to fall short. Whether there’s another war or flood in this world there’s just one blissful solution to every sorrow. Take a bite of that Rasgulla and fill your life with sugary happiness.


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