They say that Bengalis have a sweet tooth. And it is true, undoubtedly. Moreover, West Bengal is the ‘Sweetest Part of India. Sweets here form an inseparable part of life and culture. Be it any occasion, a casual get together, a homecoming or a regular meal, sweets are the quintessential part of Bengali palate. Below here is a list of eleven sweets from West Bengal that are the must-try here.
Yes, the first and foremost item in the list is Roshogolla. No, it is not Rasgulla, neither it is Rasgola; it is only Roshogolla. The round white balls are made from chhena and then dipped in sugar syrup. Seasonal variations yield a variety of flavours in it like mango, lichi, banana etc. But the original concept remains the same. During winter, a special ingredient of Nolen Gur (or Khejur Gur meaning date palm jaggery) is also blended with the chhena that gives an altogether different flavour to the sweet balls.
Very much similar to that of Roshogolla, Rajbhog is yet another heavenly treat to the Bengalis. Unlike Roshogolla, it is light yellow in colour owing to the Kesar added to it. The Kesar also renders a distinctive flavour to the sweet dish making it different from the ordinary Roshogolla. Besides, Rajbhogs are often stuffed with dry fruits and nuts that give it a blissful flavour.
- Misti Doi
It is not at all the regular Dahi that most of us consume after meals. Misti Doi is much creamier and smoother. Often it is blended with condensed milk and jaggery to make it’s another version called Vapa Doi. Many chefs add nuts and pistachios for an added savour. Various shops also sell a variety of flavoured Misti Doi like mango doi (Aam Doi) but the first times must go for the plain chilled Misti Doi.
Again, it is not Sandesh but Shondesh. This dry dessert of Bengal comes in various sizes, shapes and flavours. The basic ingredients of Shondesh comprise of chhena, condensed milk and sugar or jaggery. However, you will also find sugar free Shondesh for diabetic patients as well. Similar to Nolen Gurer Roshogolla, Nolen Gurer Shondesh too is the must-try dessert for the Kolkata first-timers.
‘Mihi’ means fine and ‘dana’ means small pellets. The heaps of fine yellow tiny balls on the palate tag its name as Mihidana. It looks very similar to Bundi but is much smaller in size. Rice flour is first mixed with water and saffron and made into tiny balls. Then they are deep-fried and consequently plunged in sugar syrup to allow a smooth and rich texture.
Often pronounced together with Mihidana as Mihidana-Sitabhog, the latter is another drooling sweet dish of Bengal. Fine elongated white fragments (looks very similar to boiled rice particles) combined with small balls of Gulab Jamun marks the plate of Sitabhog. It is made of rice flour or semolina mixed with chhena and sugar syrup.
History says that during the colonial period, Langcha and Mihidana-Sitabhog were prepared to welcome Lord Canning and his wife in Bengal. Since then Langcha got another name of Lady Kenny after Lady Canning. Rolled in cylindrical shapes, this sweet dish is made from flour and milk. Often ghee is also used for that little extra fragrance and taste.
It is the Bengali’s form of Gulab Jamun. Small balls of chhena are deep-fried first to render it an attractive tanned look. Gradually, they are dipped in sugar syrup and served to the customers. You can try these balls and Roshogolla also when they are still hot! Believe me, both tastes beyond imagination!
- Malai Chomchom
The super-soft white cylinder-shaped balls (Chomchom) dipped in Malai and coated with Kesar and pistachios are the Malai Chomchom. The Chomchoms come in different shapes and are also sold without the Malai. Often condensed milk and khoya is used in this dish to add an extra flavour to it.
- Dorbesh not Darbesh
Boondi Laddoo covers up the name of Dorbesh in West Bengal. Though they look similar in size and colour, their taste varies. Its main ingredients list gram flour, rice flour and khoya. Often ghee, dry fruits, and nuts are used in the making as well.
- Shor Vaja
The toughest preparation in the list is Shor Vaja. The thick layers of milk are boiled and trampled repeatedly to turn it into cakes. Consequently, the cakes are baked and then deep-fried. The process involves immense patience and skill. And the outcome is a russet, square-shaped piece of sweet topped with khoya and pistachios.