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The Long Ongoing Battle of this Gol Sweet: Debate and History of Rasgulla!

Rasgulla, a popular Indian dessert, has a fascinating history intertwined with cultural and regional pride. If you are also confused about whether the sweet is from Bengal or Odisha, here's a look at its origins and evolution.

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Hitanshu Bhatt
New Update
History of Rasgulla

If you are from Bengal you would probably be battling over the bhalo ‘Rosogolla’ and our Odia friends you would be in debates to save your ‘Rasagola.’ And not only you but every Indian sweet lover is longing for the debate to settle and eager to know where exactly Rasgulla originated. We will leave it up to the authorities and historians to decide that but this article discusses the stories of the origin of Rasgulla in both the states and its modern scenario. 

Odisha's Claim

Odisha Rasagola
Odisha Rasagola

The state of Odisha claims that rasgulla has been part of its culinary tradition for over 600 years. According to local lore, the sweet was offered to Lord Jagannath in the temple of Puri as part of the religious rituals. The story tells that 'Khira Mohana' (known for its white appearance) was served by lord Jagannath to Goddess Mahalakshmi as an apology for not taking her along during the Rath Yatra. Since then this dish has been served in the temple of Puri to Lord Jagannath and Goddess Lakshmi. The legend behind the recipe for it goes to the temple priest. It says that one day the priest saw the villagers of Pahala village throwing away excess milk and taught them to curdle the milk and make rasgulla. The excess milk was thrown by the people as the village was known to have an abundance of cows to produce more than the required milk. A specific variant called 'Pahala Rasgulla' is named after the village of Pahala known for its soft and spongy texture.

West Bengal's Claim

Banglar Rasogolla
Banglar Rasogolla

West Bengal also lays claim to the invention of Rasgulla, attributing it to the famous confectioner Nobin Chandra Das in 1868. Nobin Chandra Das, often referred to as the "father of Rasgulla," is credited with refining and popularizing the sweet in Kolkata. His descendants continue to run sweet shops in Shobhabazar, Kolkata with his name even today. 

His great-great-grandson Dhiman Das said that Nabin Chandra Das first established a sweet shop in Jorashanko in 1864. But he went out of business soon and after two years, he opened another establishment in Bagbazar. Determined that he would not peddle run-of-the-mill sweets, he wanted to invent a sweet that would solely be his creation. 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 was born Rasgulla. 

The modern scenario 

Rajbhog
Rajbhog

The commercialization and mass production of Rasgullas in West Bengal helped spread its popularity throughout India and among the Indian diaspora. Over time, Rasgulla has become an integral part of festivals and celebrations, especially in eastern India. 

Beyond the traditional white Rasgulla, variations include the 'Rajbhog' (a larger version filled with dry fruits) and the 'Kamala Bhog' (flavoured with orange). Contemporary chefs and confectioners experiment with flavours and presentations, incorporating ingredients like saffron, rose, and even chocolate to give this sweet decadence a modern twist. 

Geographical Indications (GI) Status

rasgulla gi tags

The origin of the state in which Rasgulla was first made is still under debate and that is the reason both the places have their own GI Tags for Rasgulla as to 'Odisha Rasagola' (Odia Rasagola) in Odisha and 'Banglar Rosogolla' in West Bengal. 

In 2019, Odisha received the Geographical Indications (GI) tag for 'Odisha Rasgulla', recognizing its historical association with the sweet.

West Bengal received the GI tag in 2017 for 'Banglar Rasogolla', acknowledging Nobin Chandra Das's contribution to its creation and the state's version of the sweet.

Despite its debate, variations and form, Rasgulla has been pleasing people’s taste buds for years and whether or not the battle for its origin is settled it will forever have a special place in the history of Indian sweets and the hearts of people. 

Odisha Rasagola Banglar Rasogolla Nabin Chandra Das Rosogolla Rasagola origin of Rasgulla Khira Mohana Pahala rasgulla invention of rasgulla