|Alternative names||Rasagulla, Rasagola, Rasagolla (Oriya), Rossogolla or Roshogolla (Bengali), Rasbari (Nepali)|
|Place of origin||Indian subcontinent|
|Main ingredients||Chhena, Sugar|
|Cookbook: Rasgulla Media: Rasgulla|
Rasgulla 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 East India: a creamish version in present-day Odisha, and a whitish spongy variant (called "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 to produce a less perishable variant. The Bengali historians claim that Das' recipe was an original.
According to historians from Odisha, the rasgulla originated in the Puri, as Khira Mohana. It has traditionally been offered as bhog to goddess Lakshmi, a day after the Ratha Yatra 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.
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 Khir 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.
The spongy, white variety of Rasgulla that is most popular today originated in present-day West Bengal. In 1868, a Kolkata-based confectioner named Nobin Chandra Das invented a novel method of processing the chhena in boiling sugar syrup 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.
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.
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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rasgulla.|