In Odisha, there are variations of Rasagola and the popular among them are Salepur Rasagola and Pahala Rasagola.
#1. Rasagola was originated centuries ago in Jagannatha temple, Puri, Odisha.
Rasagola is another delicacy from Odisha where Odisha is forgotten! But like many other important aspects of Odisha being centered around Jagannatha in Odisha, Rasagola was first born in the Jagannatha temple, Puri. The exact year when Rasagola took birth as “Khiramohana” in the “Rosaghara” (grand kitchen in Jagannatha temple, Puri that is also world’s largest kitchen) has never been documented. But the custom of Jagannatha offering Rasagola to wife after coming back from Mausima temple on the day of Niladri Bije takes us back to over 600 years. Sweet tradition! So, it is not Bengal, but Odisha that is birthplace of this popular delicacy.
#2. The original name of Rasagola is Khiramohana.
In the Odishan historical city of Puri, Rasagola is still known as Khiramohana. Khiramohana is brownish, mostly because of it being made of “chena” (cottage cheese) only and being boiled in “raseni” (sugar syrup, also called “sira”) for long. Khiramohana-Rasagola is less porous and less spongy as compared to the white Rasgulla.
#3. The white Rasagola was first made in Nabin Das’s kitchen in 1869.
When Odisha was struggling to exist after being devastated several times, by both natural disasters and foreign invader, many Odia people migrated to their closest relative West Bengal. Chefs, mostly from the Baleswara and Bhadrak district of Odisha, started recreating the Odia-aroma in the “Bangalibadi” (kitchen of the Bengalis). No wonder why many Bengali dishes match with that of the Odia. With the Odias, traveled their culinary skill and Khiramohana-Rasagola also made its way to Bengal. Nabin Das, a confectioner in Kolkata, while experimenting with the original Rasagola recipe added one portion of semolina to four portion of “chhana” (Bengali for cottage cheese). The Rasagola became more spongy and rubbery. That was when the white “Roshogolla”, as Bengalis fondly call it, reincarnated. His son K C Das further popularized it. Over time white version of Rasagola became popular worldwide as a Bengali delicacy. A brown Rasagola of the same volume and size of a white Rasagola would be heavier than the white one as the latter is more porous and rubbery.
#4. Rasagola is making its way to the ISRO space misson!
For its planned manned mission in 2016, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is exploring ways of producing dehydrated Rasagola so the astronauts would not miss home up in the space.
#5. Rasagala is also the precursor of many other eastern Indian delicacies.
Rasagola itself is a range of delicacies. In Odisha, there are variations of Rasagola and the popular among them are Salepur Rasagola and Pahala Rasagola. Salepur in Cuttack district and Pahala in between Bhubaneswar and Cuttack along side the National Highway 5 are quite known in Odisha and India for the Rasagola that they make. Bikali Kar from Salepur made the local variation popular and has even taken it to the level of starting an institution to teach about Rasagola and many other Odia cooking. Chhena Jhili, Rasmalai, Chhena Gaja, Raskadam, Chamcham, Pantua, Malai Chop and Kheersagar are some of the other sweet delicacies of the orient that are more or less derivatives of Rasagola.
#6. 30 July 2015: Rasagola has a day for itself!
By many Odia people on the social media it was decided to build a campaign around Rasagola and it shaped to a movement, and “Rasagola Dibasa” (Rasagola Day) is being celebrated today worldwide. In two hours of time Twitter users have tweeted over 1500 times with the hashtag #RasagolaDibasa and managed create 95,230 impressions reaching out to 22,430 Twitter users. Many are actively posting with the same hashtag in Facebook, Instagram and blogs. The most popular Odia daily carried a special Sunday weekly edition on 26 July featuring Rasagola and started a campaign for Rasagola Dibasa by partnering with the Rasagola vendors of Pahala.
#7. Rich Rasagola, a big no for diabetics!
Rasagola, being such a fondly delicacy among many is a big no for diabetics. A 100g Rassagola has 186 calories with carbohydrates comprising 153 calories, fats for 17 calories and proteins for the remaining 16 calories. According to to nutrition portal Livestrong.com, “a serving of rasgulla provides about 9 percent of the total daily calorie requirement for a standard diet of 2,000 calories”. That still doesn’t stop the Rasagola lovers to compromise with their love.
#8. Woes lovers over in four nations in the subcontinent and all over the world.
Rasagola is lovingly and largely sold in four South Asian nations; India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. The Nepalese call it “Rasbari” while gulping with love. Rasagola is also sold in canned tins outside the subcontinent in many South Asian grocery stores. The brown Tasagolas from Odisha are gaining more and more popularity in Indian cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi, thanks to the restaurant chains like Dalma, and the Odisha government run Odisha Bhavan.
PS: The Odia post about Rasagola Dibasa that was also published as an op-ed in The Samaja is here: http://psubhashish.com/2015/03/20/rasagola-birthplace-odisha/