If you’re craving some sweet after Vijaya Dashami, here are a few authentic Bengali sweets you should try that will give you a taste of Bengal‘s sweet-making prowess. By Shubhanjana Das
They say that some things are better left unchanged, and that’s exactly the case with the Bengali sweetheart, rosogolla (pun intended). A wrong pronunciation of ‘rasgulla’ attracts as many frowns as the wrong texture of the ‘rosogolla’ will. Ever since the Portuguese left behind the tradition and practice of making chhena from milk, Bengalis have taken it miles ahead, changing and rewriting the Bengali culinary history forever with these incredible Bengali sweets.
1. Sitabhog, Langcha and Mihidana
Almost every district of West Bengal has its own rendition of the classics, and some have their own classics. For example, the Sitabhog, Langcha, and mihidana of Bardhaman is known throughout the state. The Sitabhog, named after Sita, was declared the sweet of the state during Lord Curzon’s tenure. The sweet resembles the gobindobhog rice, grown in Bardhaman. As for the Langcha, it is typical to this very small place called Shaktigarh which makes these elliptical sweets that resembles gulab-jamun and is overwhelming to some, and heart-warming to others. The Mihidana is a complement to the Sitabhog and vice versa, and comes together almost every time. While it was initially made to mark the visit of Lord Curzon in 1904, Bardhaman makes 60,000 kg of this besan-based sweet, all of which is consumed within Bengal.
2. Shorbhaja, Shorpuria
Shorbhaja is definitely not a sweet for the faint-hearted. Deep-fried layers of milk fat soaked in sugar syrup, it’s as indulgent and sinful as it gets. As for Shorpuria, it’s a close cousin, a milder version that is baked instead of fried. Both are the geniuses of different families but hail from the same, Krishnanagar, whose streets are fragrant with the smell of fresh, warm, and succulent shorbhaja and shorpuria.
The best way to describe a pantua to a non-bengali is to describe it as a deep-fried pancake drenched in sugar syrup. Flour, sugar, coconut, cardamom, etc. go into the batter before being deep fried and then bathed in the ever-so-sensuous sugar syrup. Every household will have its own rendition, but what doesn’t change is the fact that it’s a one-of-a-kind sweet.
4. Joynogor’er Moa
A small district in the 24 Parganas of West Bengal, Joynogor’er Moa belongs particularly to the winter season as that is when its ingredients are sourced best. Nolen gur (jaggery), puffed rice from a special variant of rice named kanakchuri, cardamom, pure ghee, and poppy seeds come together to make this preparation, which is typical only to Joynogor. Anybody who tells you otherwise is lying.
5. Chhena’r Jilipi
One thing you shouldn’t be doing while having Chhena’r jilipi is counting your calories, for it is an absolutely sinful indulgence. If you are already a fan of the jalebi, you would want to try the softer, gooey version of it in the form of the Chhena jilipi, which is made from cottage cheese (the chhena), khoya, and maida. It is, again, deep fried and bathed in sugar syrup. The lingering flavour of the cardamom along with its warmth is to die for.