As much as it is coveted for being a prestigious label, the geographical indication (GI) tag has also been instrumental in creating a competition between neighbouring states West Bengal and Odisha. Years of controversy over the origin of Banglar rosogolla and Odisha rasagola had come to a head just before Bengal received the GI tag in 2017. Two years later, when Odisha is celebrating a similar sweet success, CT asks Kolkata’s sweetshop owners if this will in any way result in a clash of interests.
Both the states had their distinct claims that explained why each one deserved the GI tag. While Bengal had said that Nabin Chandra Das introduced rosogolla in 1869, Odisha had claimed that a very similar sweet was offered at Puri’s famed Jagannath Temple since the 12th century. But with both getting the GI tag two years apart, where does the tussle stand now? According to Mahuya Hom Chowdhury, representative of state science and technology department who played a key role in securing the GI tag for Banglar rosogolla, “This shouldn’t bother us. I am happy that the problem has been solved amicably. Any state can protect their product with a GI tag. Instead of worrying about them, we should look to promote our brand, Banglar rosogolla, in a more productive way. If Odisha got the tag after providing proper proof, what’s the harm? In fact, this will make our product even more popular. Don’t multiple brands of various products compete and exist at the same time?”
For most sweet shop owners, this new GI tag for Odisha has turned the wheel all the more in Bengal’s favour. They are confident that no one will now ever confuse the Banglar rosogolla with the Odisha rasagola. “A separate GI tag for Odisha rasagola is the best thing to happen in the ongoing tussle. Now, the tag has made the difference between the two different recipes and their preparations more clear. This way, Bengal gets to keep the original rosogolla recipe made of pure chhena. Now, there is a distinct division between the two sweets on paper,” said Dhiman Das of KC Das Pvt Ltd.
But other sweet shop owners have a different take. They are a little taken aback by the move. “I don’t know how come Odisha has been awarded the GI tag for a product that was already established as a sweet originating from Bengal. I am yet to go through the details of the GI tag awarded to them, but the rosogolla is rightfully Bengal’s creation,” said Pratap Nag, partner at Bhim Chandra Nag.
Some others believe that such a tussle over a sweet dish is futile. They would rather like to see an end to this ongoing fight between the two states. “Be it Odisha’s sweet or Kolkata’s, the fight over the origin of rasagola and rosogolla has been going on for too long now. We received the GI tag two years ago for Banglar rosogolla and now Odisha has also received the tag for Odisha rasagola. I believe that we should celebrate the sweet in all its forms and enjoy its heavenly taste,” said Nitai Ghosh, owner of Chittaranjan Mishtanna Bhandar.
The bitter-sweet truth
‘There is no competition’
I don’t see any competition here. India is one country and the sweet, wherever it’s made, will have the same delicious taste. If the variation in taste bothers people, then I must add that even within Kolkata, there are many kinds of rosogollas. Some are sweeter compared to the others, some are spongier and some have
thicker syrup. So, it’s only natural that there will be a difference in taste across states. I have had rasagola and I don’t like to dig too much into this debate. All
that matters is that chhena is dipped in syrup and should taste good when it reaches my mouth.
— Sanjib Chattopadhyay, author
‘Can’t compare Banglar rosogolla with anything’
There is no way you can compare the heavenly taste of Banglar rosogolla with any other sweet from any other place on earth, let alone another state. Yes, Odisha has their original creation, chenapora. But Banglar rosogolla is a unique recipe that combines chhena with syrup. In fact, the chhena sweet is one of the healthiest and tastiest. But you need to check how much syrup you are consuming along with it. Besides, everywhere in the world, people recognise rosogolla as a sweet from Bengal. I don’t even ever try sweets from outside the state when I am touring for matches. The passion with which Bengal makes sweets is unmatched. I respect the fact that Odisha rasagola also got a GI tag, but ours is the best sweet.
— Jhulan Goswami, cricketer
‘Both are tasty’
For me, Banglar rosogolla and Odisha rasagola are the same. Both are tasty sweets that are loved by all. Whether they are spongy or sweeter than the others, vary from shop to shop. I have enjoyed both the variations from the two states. It’s a favourite sweet and always tasty, no matter how it is made. The recipe of the sweet seems to be quite similar in both West Bengal and Odisha. I don’t believe that the trademark taste of the sweet can change from region to region.
— Rachna Banerjee, actor-turned-compere
‘Rosogolla tastes better’ Banglar rosogolla is any day way better. I found the Odisha rasagola to be a lot sweeter and thicker. It doesn’t match up to the taste of our sweet. Even the quality of chhena used is different. But more than Kolkata, the rosogollas are amazing and spongy in areas like Howrah, Hooghly and Nadia districts in Bengal. — Raghab Chatterjee, musician
Source: Times of India