Joynagarer Moa: What's The Fuss All About?

Joynagarer Moa: What's The Fuss All About?
Joynagar has a GI tag for the moa, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

This fragile sweet from Bengal is available only for a short period in the winter

Rajlakshmi Dastidar
February 26 , 2021
04 Min Read

The famous 'moa' of Joynagar is a winter must-buy for all Bengali households. Handcrafted from the village situated close to Kolkata, this concoction sends everyone into a food coma. A moa is made with khoi (puffed rice), is fragile and soft, and melts in your mouth. Laced with cardamom and Bengal's legendary nolen gur (a liquid jaggery made from date palms and found only in winter), it is a ball-shaped piece of heaven. The best ones are made with khoi from a rice variety known as kanakchur. And the jaggery - it's best if it is poyra gur (the batch made from the first sap of the season).

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Come winter and you will find boxes stacked up in all Bengali homes. People run around shops to grab the last piece before they are all gone for the season. The puffed rice balls which received a GI tag in 2015, have lately been at the centre of a controvery over their place of origin - Joynagar, or its neighbouring district, Baharu. 

Read: A Sweet Winter Treat From Bengal: Nolen Gurer Sandesh

Boxes of moa get exported to, and ordered by, Bengalis who live in different parts of the world. Through word of mouth, and little bites, other people too have caught on to this sweet. Sweetmakers have received orders for boxes from many countries, including Bahrain, Canada, Italy and Dubai.

If you look into the history of the moa, you will find that the taste of sweetness lingers on the tongues of famous freedom fighters and people of the Renniasence movement in Bengal. Well-known social reformers, physicans, archaelogists were all huge fans of the sweetmeat. Think Shibnath Shastri, Nilratan Sarkar, Kalidas Dutta, Bimal Krishna Motilal (the Spaulding professor of Oxford University), and many more.

Read: Brown Sugar: Kolkata's Winter Sweet Tales

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Read: West Bengal: All Things Sweet 

The largest producer of this heavenly winter food is Joynagar Moa Nirmankari Society which earned the GI tag from the Ministry of Commerce in March 2015. Many have registered under them to produce moa, others are still under the process of registration.

Read: Odisha: The Real Rosogolla

If you want to sample this piece of heaven, here's some good news. India Post is connecting with other postal departments to ship kilos of this sweet to cities like Chennai and Mumbai. However, only those certified under the GI tag in Kolkata have the right to sell Joynagar’s moa after wholesale purchase from the manufacturers.

So if your mouth is watering at the thought of moa, you can go ahead and place an order on the official website of Joynagar Moa Nirmankri Society. Along with that, if you want to have a sip of nolen gur, they will be glad to send some over as well! 

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