I have many names. I have many forms. I am 1000 years young. I was born in Orissa. Then 150 years back I was ‘Discovered’ again by a Bengali Columbus and given a makeover. The world loves me. The Gods adore me. I am a Star. I am Rasgulla and this is my Story.
I don’t have many recollections of my childhood. I was born in the Jagannatha temple in Puri. Back then I was called Kheera Mohana, the Kheera in reference to my white appearance. I was quite big and had an elliptical shape as a tribute to the eye’s of Lord Jagannath. In fact legend has it that, once Lord Jagannath along with his siblings Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra left on a journey to Gundicha Temple for nine days without informing his consort Goddess Lakshmi. When he returned after nine days, Goddess Lakshmi refused to open the doors of the temple to let him in. In order to placate her anger, Lord Jagannath offers Rasogollas to Goddess Lakshmi. The Goddess finally relents and lets him enter the temple along with his siblings. Since then this ritual is celebrated as part of the Puri Rath Yatra.
In Puri, I was treated like royalty and my method of creation was a closely guarded secret. I was yet to become the common’s man dessert that I am today. But then something happened. Just a few kilometers from Bhuvaneshwar lies the village of Pahala. Back then this hamlet had more than Cattle than Humans. In short, the supply of milk exceeded the consumption leading to enormous wastage. According to an Odiya folklore, it was one of the priests from the temple who taught the people a method to curdle milk and then the method of my creation. The villagers took his teachings to heart and soon became reknowned for the sweet. In fact, even now the entire village practices the same business; that of selling Rasogollas.
I was now popular throughout Orissa now but I had one fatal flaw which prevented me from spreading throughout the country; My taste would begin to turn sour within a few hours. In short, I was created for immediate consumption and I was to stay the same until in 1868 ‘Columbus’ came to town. Nabin Chandra, a confectioner from Kolkata is the man who made me into what I am today. He is therefore also considered to be the ‘Father of Rasgulla’. Nabin who came from a line of confectioner’s modified the original recipe to create another version of me that was spongier and lasted longer than the original. He is considered to be the father of Rasgollas.
But contrary to popular belief it was a Non-Bengali who actually made me popular in Bengal. They say ‘Fortune favours the brave’ and soon enough fortune visited Nabin in the form of Bhagwandas Bagla. Bhagwandas, a wealthy timber merchant from Rajasthan stopped by Nabin’s shop one day. He asked the helper in the shop to get some water for his thirsty son. As was customary in Nabin’s shop, the helper served the glass along with Rasgollah. The delighted child offered the sweet to his father and the delighted father bought a lot of Rasgulla for his friends and Family.
Thanks to this, I travelled along Bhawandas’s trade routes. I became Rashbari In Nepal. I am called Rajbhog in Rajasthan. In UP I am Rasmalai. The East India Company named me the Sweet Dumpling. Nabin Chandra Das’s son, Krishna Chandra Das would later package me in cans which resulted in a wider distribution of my awesomeness.
Nowadays you can visit any Sweets Shop to savour the gastronomical delight that is me.