For all the arrogance of the Bengali mishti, it hasn’t quite quelled the ‘rumour’ that rosogolla is Oriya by descent. But one visit to dusty Pahala (15km from Bhubaneswar)—a huddle of over sixty rosogolla (and chhena poda) shops on either side of the highway that connects the capital to Cuttack—and the matter becomes as clear as single-thread syrup. To the teeth and with enough heft to make a point of it, the ‘real thing’ crumbles in the mouth with little resistance. Darker than the tinned travesty, it looks suspiciously like Kolkata’s winter-special gurer rosogolla; swimming in large vats of syrup so thick, the orbs of chhena bob like they would in the Dead Sea.
If a trip to Pahala seems hard to accomplish, make your way to any of the Bikala Nand Kar shops in Bhubaneswar (Shahid Nagar; 0674-2546691) or in Cuttack (Gowri Shankar Park; 0671-2511000). Or head to Puri’s Jagannath temple on the last day of the Rath Yatra. Apparently Lakshmi, consort of the resident deity here, has been appeased with this chewy confection for over 600 years… Now that should settle it.