William Powell said, “Dessert is probably the most important stage of the meal, since it will be the last thing your guests remember before they pass out all over the table.”Desserts are essentially sweet items that every person loves to eat. The word ‘sweet’ itself brings a smile on the face and creates a tingling sensation in the taste buds. West Bengal is a food loving state that is famous for its fish and sweets. However, Bengal has always been associated with rosogolla, misti doi and sandesh. The state is filled delectable desserts lesser known to the people of neighboring states and countries.
Gone are the days when Rosogolla, Misti Doi and Sandesh were considered the best. Here are five world famous Bengali desserts that every person with a sweet tooth must try.
Langcha originated from a small town Shaktigarh, near Bardhaman district. These oval shaped cottage cheese sweets are elongated at the sides and flattened in the middle. Cottage cheese is mixed with solidified milk along with cardamom seeds and deep-fried. The item is then immersed in a pool of sugar syrup. Due to soft insides, the syrup gets absorbed. The history of Langcha dates back to a matrimony alliance made between two powerful districts of Bengal- Bardhaman and Krishnanagar. The groom was from Bardhaman while the bride belonged to Krishnanagar. During her pregnancy, the bride expressed a desire to eat sweetmeat made by the artisans of her maternal home. Unable to remember the name of the sweet she wanted to taste, the artisans prepared a similar variety. The bride named the dessert Langcha, after the name of the limp artisan.
Another sweet invented in the Bardhaman district, Sitabhog has been a famous dessert carving its niche for more than 104 years. To a layman this sweet looks like a bowl of plain rice, but once tasted the dish reveals its true colors. Sitabhog was an invention of Bhairav Chandra Nag, a sweet maker. He mixed cottage cheese along with powdered rice in a proportion of 1:4. The variety of rice used in this sweet is different. This rice is grown only in a single patch and is known to infuse a distinctive flavor.
Sarbhaja isn’t a sweet for diet conscious people and I will tell you why. This sweet is deep fried layers of thick cream. In Bengal ‘Sar’, means Malai or the creamy layer of milk and ‘bhaja’ means fry. In certain places, Sarbhaja is also known as Sarpuria, but the milk is transformed into a non-fried cake rather than a fried delicacy. When it comes to desserts, West Bengal owes to most of its districts.
This dessert looks and tastes like Gulab Jamun, but is rolled in an oblong shape instead of round. Cottage cheese, flour, ghee and cardamom is kneaded together to create oblong balls. These balls are then deep-fried and immersed in sugar syrup for few hours for a subtle sweet flavor. The sweetened balls are then taken out and immersed again, but this time in condensed milk. The sweet is then kept in the freezer to chill.
5. Nolen Gurer Payesh
This sweet is made from Nolen Gur (jaggery made from Date palm) and is a winter delicacy. Owing to the ingredients used, this item is available when the climate is cold outside and the date trees secrete sweet juice. Milk, rice and this special jaggery is used to make this dessert. The dessert needs constant attention and stirring while it is cooked. Dry fruits are also added to enhance the flavors.
West Bengal as a state has always been appreciated for its culture, food, handicrafts, and many things more, but never had it been appreciated for its desserts. Like French desserts, making Bengali desserts require time, effort and fresh ingredients. If you have a weakness for desserts, come to Bengal, taste these incredible delicacies and fall in love with them.