I have been trying to cut my sugar intake for the last three months and to an extent, I have been successful. I was getting flabbier by the day and had to put a big full stop to this binge sweet consumption. Not going into the good and bad side of excessive sweet consumption in the blog instead let me take you to a land where its sweetness overloaded.
There has been an ongoing war between Odisha and Bengal as to whom Rosogalla truly belongs to. While Bengalis have, a special soft corner when it comes to Rosogollla the good citizens of Odisha initially claimed Rosogolla as theirs and then when Rosogolla was given GI tag in favor of Bengal they changed the name to Odisha Rasagola and got their own GI tag.
I have asked this question to several friends of mine who keep debating about the origin of the white fluffy sugary-sweet dish. Keeping the debate aside I wanted to try out myself the difference or the similarity between the two versions of Rasgulla (now this is the North Indian name for the same stuff).
During my childhood almost mandatory trips to Puri during school vacations, a part of the experience was incomplete without having Rosogolla from the vendors selling at the beachfront. After a swim in the sea, a sweet experience was always welcome. During one such session, I vividly remember choking while trying to swallow a whole Rosogolla as I wanted to go for a swim for one last time. My mother had to give a hard pat on my back to stop me from choking.
A Trip to Pahala
During a trip to Bhubaneswar earlier this year, I was told by the host that I am in for a special sweet treat at a place called Pahala located somewhere between the highway that connects Bhubaneswar to Cuttack. Not exactly knowing what to expect I really did not think about it much until the bus actually arrived at Pahala.
What we in Bengal can easily relate to when we say Shaktigah and Lengcha or for that matter Bardhaman and Sitabhog it is exactly the same when it comes to Pahala and Odisha Rasagola.
There are several shacks all lined up next to each other on both sides of the road and all of these shops are selling the same products. The prices are also the same so just pick your favorite or just walk into a random shop. Almost all of them will serve you piping hot Odisha Rasagola.
Odisha Rasagola vs Rosogolla
Let me be absolutely neutral and tell you that these two products may look the same but they taste absolute different. The texture differs hugely and so is the taste, if you don’t believe me then I am ready for a challenge. What you get in Pahala is a type of sponge Rosogolla with a milder sweetness and equally thin sugar syrup. What we in Bengal refer to as the Rosogolla are slightly hard textured with a coarse feeling as you bite into them. They will not squish if you try to bite into them and will retain its original shape. Last but not the least the consistency of the sugar syrup is different with a thicker variety and obvious more sweetness.
Much More than Odisha Rasagola
Honestly speaking my favorite of the sweets from Odisha has always been the Chhena Poda, which I think, is what defines sweets of Odisha for me. Right from childhood, I remember my father bringing these in kilos from every trip to Bhubaneswar. Later when I started traveling for work to this region the very first thing that I would do whenever I landed in Bhubaneswar was to have Chhena Poda. Chhena Poda is milk cheese (cheena) which baked overnight and then soaked in sugar syrup. The baking makes one side of the chhena cake burn and that is what makes it so tasty. You need to buy these according to weight as its shape of a cake and will be cut then weighed and then served. There is also another variety of Chhena Poda which is made by steaming the chenna instead of baking them and then its doused in the sugar syrup.
Apart from Chhena Poda, Odisha Rasagola you will get another variety of sweet which is known as Chhenar Goja. These are a harder and dry variety of milk cheese or chhena. Unlike Odisha Rasagola these don’t float on sugar syrup instead have a dried sugary texture.
Made Right in front Of You
The best part of a trip to Pahala has always been to see the kitchen where these sweets are prepared. Each shop has its own kitchen at the back and you are free to visit them. Mind the heat from the wood-fired ovens and take extra precautions of the huge cauldrons filled to the brim with piping hot sugar syrups. It is also not uncommon for shops to share the same kitchen space, as what I have understood is that no matter which shop you visit they are all known to each other and that is the very reason why the price is same across all shops in this locality.
Since there are several shops here selling the same items thus this locality has become synonymous to traditional Indian sweets and customers both from Bhubaneswar as well as from Cuttack come here so a fixing their sweet cravings. So next time you, travel to Bhubaneswar remember to stop by this place and increase your blood sugar for a day.