Rasgulla: a sweet that sparked a bitter battle between two states
Rasgulla is a popular Indian sweet that is widely enjoyed across the country. Made from cottage cheese (chhena) and cooked in a sugar syrup flavored with cardamom or rose water, Rasgulla is sometimes referred to as an elite sweet in the country. The sweet is consumed all over the country, but it holds cultural significance for Bengal and Odisha. Interestingly, it is perhaps the only sweet in the world that sparked a bitter battle between two states. While the exact origins of Rasgulla may be difficult to determine definitively, both states have a strong attachment to the sweet and consider it an integral part of their cultural identity.
What is the issue?
The issue of Rasgulla between West Bengal and Odisha revolves around the origin and ownership of this popular Indian sweet. Both states claim to be the rightful birthplace of Rasgulla, which has led to a debate and even legal disputes. West Bengal claims that Rasgulla originated in the state, specifically in the city of Kolkata, and holds a special place in Bengali culture and cuisine. They argue that it has been a traditional sweet in Bengal for centuries. On the other hand, Odisha also lays claim to the origin of Rasgulla, stating that it has been a part of Odia culinary traditions for a long time. They contend that it was prepared and offered as a sweet delicacy in the Jagannath Temple in Puri, a famous religious site in Odisha.
How it started?
It all started when West Bengal applied for Geographical Indication (GI) status for "Banglar Rasgulla" (Rasgulla from Bengal) in 2015. Then, Odisha opposed this move, and claimed that the GI status should be given to Odia Rasgulla. In 2017, the government granted the GI tag Banglar Rasgulla, and recognized West Bengal as the origin of the sweet. Later on when Odisha challenged the move, the decision was revered. And in 2019, both West Bengal and Odisha were granted separate GI tags for their respective versions of Rasgulla.
Here are a few well-known sweet shops in West Bengal and Odisha where you can find excellent Rasgulla. Feel free to comment on your favorite!
Located in Kolkata, K.C. Das is a renowned sweet shop that is credited with popularizing Rasgulla and other Bengali sweets.
Bhim Chandra Nag
Another famous sweet shop in Kolkata, Bhim Chandra Nag is known for its delectable Rasgulla and other traditional Bengali sweets.
Pahala, a village near Bhubaneswar in Odisha, is known for its delectable Rasgulla. Several sweet shops in Pahala specialize in this sweet, including Pahala Rasgulla Kendra.
Salepur, another town in Odisha, is also renowned for its Rasgulla. You can find various sweet shops in Salepur that offer delicious Rasgulla, such as Jagannath Sweets and Jagannath Rasgulla.