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Site on Bengal’s sweet icon

The syrupy ball of cottage cheese that has been Bengal’s calling card across generations (even if a hijacked one, as Odisha residents would claim) will now have virtual space marked out in its name. Thursday will see the launch of www.rasogolla.com dedicated to rasogolla and other iconic traditional sweets of Bengal that are widely savoured but seldom researched.

“People coming from Bengal are asked to fetch rasogolla, in India or abroad. But little exists by way of documentation on library racks. We want the study of Bengal’s sweets to take off. This is a first step in that regard,” says Nitai Ghosh of Chittaranjan Mistanna Bhandar, which is famous for its rasogolla. “Trust me, this will be about our shared cultural heritage, not the Chittaranjan brand or sales.”

Ghosh says he gets plenty of enquiries about the making of rasogolla from curious customers. That is why a large section of the website will be dedicated to the stages of production, captured though texts, pictures and video clips. “We are starting not from milk but even earlier — the kind of grass that has to be fed to the cow to ensure quality milk.” The process will document the making of other sweets like sandesh and chamcham as well.

Another section will list the kind of sweets that used to be prepared for specific puja rituals or social occasions like phulsojya or jamaishashthi. “Khaja, for instance, was a must for bhaiphota.”

Ghosh, whose grandfather’s father Hiralal Ghosh had started the Shyambazar shop in 1907, is keeping the other cards close to his chest before the launch at Bengal Club where Shankar, Krishna Bose and Gautam Bhadra will speak on various aspects of the history of sweets. “We are linking the site to social networks so people can share anecdotes heard from their forefathers about sweets.”

Ghosh is concerned how many types of sweets are going into oblivion. “I would love to hold events where researchers would discuss a sweet and the session would end with tasting of the topic.”