West Bengal: All Things Sweet

West Bengal: All Things Sweet

A short guide to the Bengali sweet tooth

Sheema Mukherjee
June 23 , 2017
Less than 1 Min Read

Though the Bengali sweet tooth is usually identifed with rosogolla, the sweet is a relatively recent invention, made by Nobin Chandra Das of Kolkata in 1886 when he accidentally dropped chhena (casein) into boiling syrup. Though his initial experiments had a tendency to disintegrate, history was made. Rosogolla was the first Indian sweet tinned — by Nobin’s son Krishna, of KC Das & Sons — and exported even before WWII. Important among its kind are big brother rajbhog and golden yellow komolabhog.

But the most interesting sweet is ledikeni — cylindrical and fried dark brown, it is named for Lady Canning, the wife of Lord Canning, a 19th century viceroy, on whose birthday it was created by Bhim Nag, a famous confectioner. Famed among more venerable chhena delectables is the famous sandesh (literally ‘news’), fashioned into fruit, flower, shell or fish shapes. However, the poetic names are half the sweetness. For instance, mouchaak or ‘honeycomb’; abar khabo, ‘shall eat again’; the steamed ice-cream sandesh; ‘soul stealing’ praanhora; and ‘sealed-with-a-clove’ lobongolotika.

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