What’s one of the first things that a person from outside Bengal associates with Kolkata? Rasgulla. Renowned British chef William Harold described it in a journal as “...a bowl of sweet, syrupy, soft cheese balls.” There is quite a lot of history behind this 700-year-old famous sweet and claimant war between Orissa and West Bengal. Odisha’s folklore suggests that a priest from the Puri temple started teaching the art of making rasgullas when he saw villagers throwing away excess milk. It then went on to become a legend where Lord Jagannath offered the sweets to his spouse, the goddess Lakshmi, as a form of compensation for not taking her along during the Rath Yatra or ritual chariot ride. From that legend, it has now become a custom to offer rasgulla to the goddess, Lakshmi on the last day of Rath Yatra.
Bengalis, however, claim, that the sweet delight originated from Kolkata and do not take the Odisha claim lightly. They proclaim that it was developed by Calcutta gentleman, Nabin Chandra Das in 1868 and made popular by the following generations of his family. Also, the Bengalis call it roshogolla, pronounced as ‘raw-sho-golla’, and is an integral part of all our festivities. Dhiman Das, Nobin Chandra Sen’s great-grandson said, “Nabin Das tried to boil chenna balls in sugar syrup, but they would just disintegrate. He finally resolved the problem by using reetha and creating bubbles that would lend a sponginess to the chenna balls. After sustained effort, he was able to master the art of holding the balls together, and thus the rasgulla was born . His customers loved it.”
It might be a tall claim that Bengalis are the sweetest people in the world but we surely have the best sweets one can find. Let us explore a few sweet shops in Kolkata famous for their roshogollas.
I. Nobin Chandra Das & Sons
Where: 77, Jatindra Mohan Ave, Sovabazar, Shobhabazar
Named after the founding father of rasgullas, what better place to try out the dish than from its inventors? Nobin Chandra Das set up his confectionery in 1866 and the quality of sweets has firmly stood the test of time. They have a variety of other tasty sweets available too but their specialty is the orange-flavored rasgullas.
II. Chittaranjan Mistanna Bhandar
Where: AV School, 34B, Shyam Bazar St, Hati Bagan, Shyam Bazar
The shop is over a century old and is certified to sell Kolkata’s GI-tagged rasgulla. Its taste has remained constant over the years It is perfectly spongy but not crumbly. The confectionery gets the texture absolutely right without making it too sweet.
III. Balaram Mullick and Radharaman Mullick Sweets
Where: 22, Park St, Taltala
This sweet shop is known for its exquisite sweets and desserts. They have many unique fusion sweets available like where sandesh is merged with chocolate, mango fudge, nolen gur, kesar, and many more such ingredients. Trying out the baked rasgulla here is a must. They have many outlets, which are spread across the city.
Where: 46, Amherst St, Lalbajar, College Row, Machuabazar
All those who have grown up around Kolkata’s famous book market, College street will have a strong emotional bond with this century-old confectionery shop located. Putiram is a simple sweet shop that serves rasgulla, sandesh, and more at affordable prices. The best accompaniment with the sweets is the hot kachoris or rajbhogs.
Where: 34B, Shakespeare Sarani Rd, near Shakespeare Sarani, Elgin
Vien is one of the most favorite rasgulla spots in town. The ideal time to visit is at 4 pm when they bring in a fresh batch of hot rasgullas. The rasgullas are not very spongy and literally melt in your mouth. Vien sweet shop sells both nolen gur as well as the regular rasgullas. They are also renowned for their sandesh and singara (the Kolkata samosa).
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