This is the variety most famous across the world today. The Rossogolla that was first created by the legendary Columbus of Rossogolla - Bagbazar's Nobin Chandra Das - in 1868. Spongy, chewy, bursting at every pore with the nectar of syrup - its the quintessential Indian sweet. True-born Bengalis swear that its the panacea for hunger of the physical as well as the metaphysical variety - and some claim that its the perfect anodyne for even the worst of gastric problems! Whatever be the truth of these well-rounded claims, the fact remains that this confectionery has been rocking the gastronomic universe for over one and a half centuries!
Come winter, Kolkata's sweetshop shelves display this seasonal beauty in all its creamy glory. This is rossogolla with a sweeter twist - flavored with the nectar of date palms. "Nolen gur" as it is called by the Bengalis, is the syrup extracted from date palms in winter and has its own distinctive flavour.
Truly a King of Kings, Maharajabhog proves that you can actually gild the lily. Its the Lord of Rossogollas in more ways than one, the least of which is its humongous size - more than twice as big as the classical Rossogolla. Bengali mothers-in-law decree that this is what their beloved "jamai"s should have and Bengali sisters demand nothing less for their spoilt and pampered brothers. Maharajabhogs usually have a kernel of some sort, unlike the classical Rossogolla.
Saffron marks whatever is sacred in India. And the Kesarbhog is truly a sweet of the gods! Kesar (saffron) is mixed with the “chhana” dough of the Rossogolla to give it a delicate tinge of colour and a subtle hint of flavour. For the inner stuffing, a small quantity of “khoa” is blended with sugar along with minced pistachios, raisins, a few petals of saffron and processed into a small ball which then forms the core of the sweet. The sugar syrup in which this is boiled is also sprinkled with saffron. The result is a divine creation indeed!
The fruit of Man’s labour cannot probably be sweeter. First, orange peel is blended with“kheer” and minced pistachios, processed into a small ball which is then stuffed inside the “chhana” dough of the Rossogolla. The sugar syrup is also flavoured and coloured with orange peel paste. And the regular Rossogolla transforms into a rhapsody of fruity confectionery, teasing the gastronome’s palate with subtle hints of orange flavoured ecstasy!
The Kheermohan is the proto-Rossogolla, also claimed by many to be the true ancestor of the King. Originally born near Bhubaneshwar, the Kheermohan commands its own fanatic following who swear by its authenticity and taste. Unlike the classical Rossogolla, the Odiya variant is soft, crumbly and a tad floppy - with a kernel of usually a cardamom seed at its heart. It is also not boiled in a light sugar syrup like the Rossogolla, but soaked in a thicker syrup to absorb the sweetness. Purists would call it the Pretender to the throne and turn up their haughty gastronomic noses at its crude rusticity, but it has its fans for sure!
To all those who had thought that the Rossogolla was the pinnacle of the Indian confectioner's art, Nobin Das (yes, the Columbus struck again!) gave the supremely delectable Rossomalai. Rossogollas cooked in thickened sweetened milk, with a melt-in-your-mouth sweetness which defies logical explanation. Rossomalai is for the true connoisseur - a veritable manna in the wilderness of today's soulless existence. A bowlful of chilled Rossomalai is probably the closest modern Man has come to creating bliss. No wonder that Indo-Pak talks, on the rare occassions they are held, usually feature Rossomalais on the dinner menu!