|Alternative names||Rasagulla, Rossogolla, Roshogolla, Rasagola, Rasagolla, Rasbhari or Rasbari (Nepali)|
|Place of origin||Indian subcontinent|
|Serving temperature||both hot and room temperature|
|Main ingredients||Chhena, Sugar|
|Cookbook: Rasgulla Media: Rasgulla|
Rasgulla (also Rasagola and Roshogolla) is a syrupy dessert popular in the Indian subcontinent and regions with Indian diaspora, such as Mauritius. It is made from ball shaped dumplings of chhena (an Indian cottage cheese) and semolina dough, cooked in light syrup made of sugar. This is done until the syrup permeates the dumplings.
Rasagulla originated in Odisha as "Khiramohana" (a creamish dessert that is precurser to Rasgulla) in present-day Puri, and later as a whitish spongy variant (called "Roshogolla" or "Bengali Rasgulla") in present-day West Bengal. The historians of Odisha claim that the dish originated in Puri in 12th century, and Nobin Chandra Das of Kolkata later modified this recipe in 1868, to produce a less perishable variant. Das' descendants and some Bengali historians claim that his recipe was an original.
Puri temple tradition
According to historians from Odisha, the rasgulla originated in Puri, as Khira Mohana. It has been traditionally offered as bhog to goddess Lakshmi at Jagannath Temple, Puri. According to the local legend, Laxmi gets upset because her husband Lord Jagannath goes on a 9-day sojourn (the ratha yatra) without her consent. So, she locks Jai Vijay Dwar, one of the temple gates and prevents his convoy from re-entering the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. To appease her, Jagannath offers her rasgullas. This ritual, known as Bachanika, is part of the "Niladri Bije" (or "Arrival of the God") observance, which marks the return of the deities to the temple after the Ratha Yatra.
The Jagannath Temple scholars and researchers like Jagabandhu Padhi state that the tradition has existed since 12th century, when the present-day temple structure was first built. It is possible that the Bengali visitors to Puri might have carried the recipe for rasgulla back to Bengal in the nineteenth century.
This claim is contested by Bengali historians. According to Das' descendant Animikh Roy and historian Haripada Bhowmik, it would have been a blasphemy to offer something made from spoilt milk (chhena) to a deity. They also point out that the dish is not even mentioned as one of the chhappan bhog ("56 offerings") in the early records of the Temple. However, the Temple officials claim that the dish appears as Khira Mohana in their records. Laxmidhar Pujapanda of the Jagannath Temple states that the Niladri Bije tradition is mentioned in Niladri Mahodaya, which is dated to 18th century by Sarat Chandra Mahapatra. According to Mahapatra, several temple scriptures, which are over 300 years old, provide the evidence of rasgulla offering ritual in Puri.
According to folklore, Pahala (a village on the outskirts of Odisha's capital Bhubaneshwar) had a large number of cows. The village would produce excess milk, and the villagers would throw it away when it became spoilt. When a priest from the Jagannath Temple saw this, he taught them the art of curdling, including the recipe for rasagulla. Pahala thus went on to become the biggest market for chhena-based sweets in the area.
Introduction of Rasgulla in Bengal
According to the Bengali culinary historian Pritha Sen, in the mid-18th century, many Odia cooks were employed in Bengali homes who arguably have introduced Rasgulla along with many other Odia dishes.
Nobin Chandra Das
The rubbery variety of Rasgulla was introduced in present-day West Bengalin 1868 by a Kolkata-based confectioner named Nobin Chandra Das with altering the original recipe. Das started making rasgulla by processing the mixture of chhena and semolina in boiling sugar syrup in contrast to the mixture sans semolina in the original rasgulla in his sweet shop located at Sutanuti (present-day Baghbazar). His descendants claim that his recipe was an original, but according to another theory, he modified the traditional Odisha rasgulla recipe to produce this less perishable variant.
|“||“No matter how loudly Bengalis proclaim rasogolla as their own, its origin lies in Odisha. It has been an essentially Odia sweet for ages. This sweet is served to Lord Jagannath and Goddess Laxmi in the Jagannath temple in Puri. Many Brahmin Odia cooks (whom we call ‘Thakur’) came to Bengal in search of work in the middle of the nineteenth century. It was through them that many recipes from that state, including ‘rasogolla’, landed in Bengal.||”|
—Samrat Nandi. Ektu Janoon, Ektu Bhaboon
In 1930, the introduction of vacuum packing by Nobin Chandra's son Krishna Chandra Das led to the availability of canned Rasgullas, which made the dessert popular outside Kolkata, and subsequently, outside India. Krishna Chandra's son Sarada Charan Das established the K.C. Das Pvt Ltd company in 1946. Sarada Charan's younger, estranged son Debendra Nath established K.C. Das Grandsons in 1956.
Today, canned rasgullas are available throughout India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as in South Asian grocery stores outside the subcontinent. In Nepal, Rasgulla became popular under the name Rasbari.
In 2015, the Odisha government initiated a move to get Geographical indication (GI) status for the rasagulla made in Pahala. On 30 July, the people of Odisha celebrated "Rasagola Dibasa" ("Rasgulla Day") to reaffirm Odisha as the place of the dish's origin.
The traditional Odisha rasgullas are softer and bigger than Bengali rasgullas. The Bengali rasgullas are whitish and rubbery.
Derivatives and similar desserts
Along with Chhena Gaja and Chhena Poda, Rasgulla is one of three traditional Oriya chhena desserts. Due to Rasgulla becoming associated with the Bengali cuisine, the Odisha Milk Federation has tried to popularize chhena poda as the signature Oriya dessert.
Typically, a 100 gram serving of rasgulla contains 186 calories, out of which about 153 calories are in the form of carbohydrates. It also contains about 1.85 grams of fat and 4 grams of protein.
On July 30, 2015, on the day of "Niladri Bije", a social media campaign was started by using a hashtag #RasagolaDibasa and it later became a main-stream celebration as the maiden day to celebrate Rasgulla's origin to be Odisha. The hashtag was trending for a few hours all over India as the second most popular twitter hashtag. Odia newspaper Sambad and FM Radio Radio Choklate in collaboration with the confectioners of Pahala celebrated a rasgulla exhibition-cum-awareness event in Bhubaneswar. Sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik made a sand sculpture in Puri Beach depicting "Niladri Bije" and Jagannath offering rasgulla to Lakshmi.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rasgulla.|
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