The West Bengal government is reportedly eyeing the legal route in order to bag the bragging rights from Odisha when it comes to the origin of the Rasgulla — aka the Roshogolla, Rasogolla or Rashogolla in Bengali or the Rasgola or Rasagola in Odia.
The sweet has seen bitter rivalry over claim to its origin between the two neighbouring east Indian states. That fight looked to have petered out somewhat when an West Bengal official said last year that the state was looking for a Geographical Indications (GI) tag only for "Rasogolla" — the Bengali version of the sweet — from the Geographical Indications Registry (GIR) office in Chennai.
Now, that tussle seems to be taking a turn for the worse with a West Bengal minister claiming the state will take the legal way out in order to lay indisputable claim to the origin of the Rasgulla. With the claim should come greater business and a new piece of heritage that the state can boast of.
'Let the court decide'
West Bengal Food Processing Minister Abdur Razzak Mollah was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying in a report that the state was exploring legal avenues to ensure that Rasgulla is recognised as a Bengali sweetmeat.
The report quoted Mollah as saying: "Bengal is the origin of rosogolla... We have decided to move court. Let the court decide. We will pursue the matter till the very end."
He later told International Business Times, India, over the phone that this step would be taken only if West Bengal does not get the GI tag for Rasgulla — or Rasogolla — that it was looking for. "We have already applied for the GI tag for the Bengali Rasogolla. That is what we are looking for," he said.
The claims so far
Odisha has for a long time claimed that the original Rasgola was part of the food offered to Lord Jagannath at his famous temple in the coastal town of Puri, and that the sweetmeat had been in existence for centuries.
Chef Bibhuti Bhushan Panigrahi — an Odia by birth and a foodie by hobby — said the sweetmeat was called Kheermohan when it was presented as an offering at the Jagannath Temple.
"Odisha and its coastal towns have forever been attractions for tourists from Bengal. This was the case even in the days of British rule, when present-day Odisha was part of the Bengal Presidency," he explained.
Many believe it was from that Nobin Chandra Das — who Bengalis claim is the "inventor" of the "Rossogolla", as per the signage in front of the shop that still bears his name in Kolkata — brought the sweet back home and possibly gave it a twist that would make it wildly popular.
It is this specific preparation that West Bengal is looking to lay claim to. The state food processing department had said this very thing when it had written to the GIR in Chennai in 2016: "The preparation of light sugar syrup is unique and it contributes towards the taste of Rasogolla. Light syrup adds to the unique mouth-fill characteristic which is traditional in nature and well documented in different books unlike other similar products."