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Regular-article-logo Monday, 15 July 2024

Sweet snarls across city

The festival of lights gave way to festival of sweets on Monday

Kinsuk Basu Calcutta Published 28.10.19, 09:52 PM
A crowded Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick store in Bhowanipore on Monday evening

A crowded Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick store in Bhowanipore on Monday evening Sanat Kr Sinha

Some 24 people stood in a queue outside Bhim Chandra Nag in Bowbazar around 6.20pm on Monday.

Around the same time, 30-odd people waited for their turn to reach the counter outside Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Nandy in Hedua in north Calcutta.

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Around an hour ago, Balaram Mullick and Radharaman Mullick in Bhowanipore had close to 100 people waiting for their turn.

The festival of lights gave way to festival of sweets on Monday as Calcuttans turned up in sweet shops on the eve of Bhai Phonta — the festival that celebrates the brother-sister bond.

In central Calcutta, people started queuing up in front of traditional sweet shops from 5am to pick their favourite items, including the conventional khaja and labanga latika.

Across central Calcutta five sweet shops had collectively sold more than 3,000 pieces of khaja till Monday evening. A few in Bowbazar ran out of stock. At several others, the traditional jolbhora sandesh flew off faster than the owners had thought. Between morning and evening, more than 2,000 pieces had been sold.

“We had to open our shop at 7am because of the queue outside,” Pradip Nag of Bhim Chandra Nag, set up in 1826 on Nirmal Chunder Street in Bowbazar, said.

“Some items are not available on other days except on Bhai Phonta. So, those who were aware came prepared early in the morning,” Nag said. “The queues returned in the evening. It was madness.”

The inventors of ledikeni — the sweet named after the wife of British governor Lord Canning — Bhim Chandra Nag has been turning down bookings over phone so that those in queue get to pick their favourites from the shop.

Shakuntala is among the costliest of all the sandesh on offer. At Rs 50 a piece, it has cashew and raisins mixed with kheer as stuffing with a layer of saffron on top. But that has not come in the way of some of the fusion varieties like Alphanso mango sandesh or butterscotch sandesh.

“There are a few occasions when one doesn’t look at the price when choosing sweets,” Mugdha Bhattacharya of Sovabazar said. “I don’t mind the wait. Bhai Phonta is about emotion.”

Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Nandy saw long queues throughout the day. Many who went to buy Mango mousumi or jolbhora sandesh didn’t stop at that alone. The new offerings seemed equally tempting.

“We have come up with kesar kanchagolla — cottage cheese prepared with kesar and pistachio and rolled into sandesh,” Partha Nandy said. “Customers are happy to try the new varieties of fusion mishti.”

Balaram Mullick and Radharaman Mullick had buyers queuing up at all their branches, asking for blueberry sandesh and mango gelato sandesh.

This time the Bhowanipore shop has come up with a readymade plate with five traditional sweets on offer.

“Traditional sweets will always be in demand on certain occasions. But we have been largely able to bridge the gap this time,” Parikshit Gupta of Gupta Brothers said.

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