Preface: Had written this article for WhatsHot Kolkata (then TimesCity Kolkata) so thought of reflecting the same out here. Here’s introducing a list of some lesser known sweets in Bengal that somehow remain hidden from the national limelight but are a rage within its territorial boundaries.
Kheer Kadam, also known as Raskadam is a two-in-one orgasmic experience combining two different kinds of sweets. The name of the sweet comes from the local Kadamba flower which explains its appearance. It initially gives one the notion of an ordinary white Khoyasweet on the outside, but cut it in half and you’ll find a surprise within. The Kheer Kadam almost looks like a diagrammatic representation of the Earth’s core.
While the core is made of a harder and dryer version of the Rosogolla, what sets this sweet apart is the outer casing made of milk solids or Kheer, making this a must try sweet the moment you touch Bengal.
The sweet is made with Nolen Gur (jaggery made from the tree extracts of the Date Palm),Kanakchur Khoi (puffed rice made from a special variety of aromatic rice), Gawa Ghee (a type of clarified butter made from cow’s milk), Cardamom, and Posto (poppy seed). The ordinary Moa on the other hand is a small crispy ball made of puffed rice (muri rather than khoi) and jaggery.
What makes this dessert special is that it’s availabile only during the winter season sinceNolen Gur and Kanakchur Khoi are available only during November to January.
The origin of this sweetmeat has an interesting history. According to Bengali author Narayan Sanyal’s novel Rupamanjari , Langcha goes back to a matrimony alliance between two seats of power- Burdwan and Krishnanagar – in Bengal. The bride – who hailed from Krishnanagar – expressed a desire to eat the sweetmeat that artisans from her maternal home used to prepare, during her pregnancy. Unable to remember the exact name of the sweet, she called it Langcha because the artisan who used to prepare this specific sweetmeat used to limp and walk (in Bengali Langchano means to limp).
OnFebruary 10, 1904, Viceroy Lord Curzon visited Burdwan to confer the title of Maharaja on then king of Burdwan,Vijaychanda. To mark the occasion, a local sweet-maker, Bhairav Chandra Nag, created a delight called Mihidana.
Mihidana, the micro cousin of the traditional Boondi, is derived from two words – Mihi meaning fine and Dana, meaning grain. The word is literally translated to mean “fine grains”.
This dessert is made from powdered Kaminibhog, Gobindabhog and Basmati rice, mixed with a small amount of gram flour and saffron for a golden colour. It is then blended with water by hand till its colour lightens. This mixture is poured through a brass ladle with tiny holes into a pot of ghee and deep-fried. The fine fried small rice-like grains are dipped in sugar syrup and drained once soaked.
The patent for this Burdwan creation has legally been given to the Government of West Bengal. The Mihidana is also recognised as a heritage sweet of India.
To a layman it appears as a bowl of sweet white rice accompanied with miniature gulab jaamun pieces, but there’ s more than what meets the eye and definitely the palate.
The Sitabhog of Burdwan has been exciting many a taste buds for more than 102 years now. An invention by sweet maker Bhairav Chandra Nag– who is also known for creating the iconic Mihidana – the Sitabhog is made of powdered rice and cottage cheese mixed in a proportion of 1:4. The Sitaser variety of Gobindabhog rice – that grows solely in one patch of Burdwan district – is said to give the sweet a distinctive flavour and taste.
Sarbhaja is a connotation of two Bengali terms – Sar meaning malai or the creamy layer of milk in a condensed form and Bhaaja meaning deep-fried.
This sweet owes its origin to the Krishnanagar district of West Bengal and is a hot favourite during the festive season of Durga Puja. Another version of this sweetmeat is called the Sarpuriya which is more or less made in a milk cake format and not fried.
It is prepared from ghee, flour, milk and sugar. The milk is boiled with squeezed lemon juice to enable curdling. The cheese is then removed, washed thoroughly and hung overnight. The ready cheese is mixed together with flour and ghee, and kneaded into small balls with little milk powder added in the centre.
Kaalo Jaam balls are deep-fried until a hint of black is seen on the outer coating. They are then soaked in thick sugar syrup for two hours and served coated with milk powder.
So here’s starting your week on a sweet note. What is your favourite Bengali sweet? Do let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to follow A Pinch Of Salt!