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Revenge is sweet: How Bengalis made rosogolla their own

Move over Kohinoor. Twitter was taken over by thousands of Odias on Thursday fighting for a much more prized possession: the rosogolla.

india Updated: Jul 30, 2015 19:05 IST
Dhrubo Jyoti
The-iconic-sweet-s-origin-has-been-a-bone-of-contention-between-Odias-and-Bengalis
The-iconic-sweet-s-origin-has-been-a-bone-of-contention-between-Odias-and-Bengalis

Move over Kohinoor. Twitter was taken over by thousands of Odias on Thursday fighting for a much more prized possession: the rosogolla.



Thousands of tweets celebrating the maiden #RasagolaDibasa on July 30 trended all morning, saying the delicious sweet was an Odia invention, whose legacy was usurped by the conniving Bengalis.



This seemed particularly cruel of our next-door neighbours, who are well aware Bengal loves its icons. We are down to just three authentic pieces: The venerable Tagore, the alarmingly-thin haired Sourav Ganguly and the "sickly sweet" rosogolla. Take away the myth of Subhas Bose being alive at 118 but spare our taste buds.



Of course, the Odias would have none of it. Led by their ruling party and celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor--we always knew Punjabis were our enemies-- the Twitter brigade set forth on explaining how the culinary delight was an offering to Lord Jagannath for thousands of years before it became a popular excuse in Kolkata to not work.



Thanks for hitting where it hurts the most, Odias, knowing particularly well that all our claims of culture and history only date back till the British period. Most Bengalis don't even think the landmass existed or choose to forget there was a time when the Bhadralok didn't exist.



Bengali literature is replete with references about how Nabin Chandra Das accidentally discovered the "culinary game changer", triggering the only business in which Bengalis have ever been successful: confectionary.



"Rosogolla made Das immortal for Bengalis. He was anointed the 'Columbus of Rosogolla'. But unfortunately for Bengalis, just as Columbus never actually discovered America, Nobin never invented the Rosogolla," writes Asit Mohanty in a popular Odia media outlet.



There are more sweets shops in Kolkata as there are people, no mean feat, and Bengalis have tinned it and shipped it to California via what-we-think-is-world-famous KC Das, winning raves from the white masses.



Except that being anglophile doesn't pay always and none less than the Lonely Planet now calls Odisha the origin of the sweet - I think it's time for Dada to take his shirt off in front of the Goras once more - as more and more experts concur the land of Jagannath was the likely birthplace of the rosogolla. Many cooks from the state came to Bengal in search of work in the middle of the nineteenth century and possibly brought the recipe of the sweet with them.



In the absence of jobs or any real infrastructure, all we have is pride and culture--and nothing twines them as effectively as rosogolla.



It is both a swear word and a mark of affection, a symbol of love and joy, an object of lust and craving--and don't try to hem our debauched relationship with the rosogolla with your piety. We already crowd Puri, dirty your beaches and temples, talk loudly and crib about the lack of mach-bhaat everywhere--do you really want a million whiny, vengeful Bengalis on you?



Forget what you read about Bengali generosity and good humour - most of it was written by us anyway to impress the British. We will fight to death for our rosogolla though this not-so-bad-looking Odia man asking everyone to "Have a break, have a #Rasagola, win hearts and minds". The end of this battle will not be sweet.



(The views expressed are personal. The author is a proud Bengali and tweets as @dhrubo127.)