I know I’ve been talking about mango in last few of my posts and frankly being someone obsessed with it, I can’t really help. And this summer, the same lust , for mango off course, has brought me to the land of nawabs, Murshidabad. But, once I came down, I could find that murshidabad means so much than just mango- a rich culinary heritage of sweets exists here. And, let’s discuss it in this post. Let me dedicate this blogpost to the sweets of Murshidabad.
Now, have you heard of the sweet called Chhanabora ? It’s a living proof that looks doesn’t really matter. The outside is super hard and inside is juicy and soft. No, I am not beating my own drum- I’m talking of the sweet here. Let me start from the beginning. When I’ve started my quest for the chhanabora shop in Murshidabad, I was guided to its twin city, Berhampore- to Ananda Sweets. Do not worry, it’s just 30 min journey. It’s a small shop, nothing fancy. But, arguably, they make the best chhanabora for last half a century or more.
But let’s start with the history of the sweet first. It’s said that the credit of the sweet goes to one Patla Ustad and his employer Manindrachandra Nandi, the maharaja of Cossimbazaar Murshidabad. Being a maharaja, variety used to be his keyword. and he ordered his sweet-maker to prepare something which is neither like Rasogolla, nor like Pantua. And after a lot of brainstorming, Patla Ustad came up with this item- it’s a crossbreed between both- only much harder in nature and with a high shelf life– and that’schhanabora for bengal. It’s deep fried and is filled with the flavor of cardamom.
Now, Ananda Sweets is one of the pioneers for the same in Berhampore. It’s run by Mr Bijoy Gopal Saha and his brother. Now, for record (quoting Telegraph India), Ananda Sweets in Behrampore’s Gorabazar made the 12 kg chhanabora for Mamata Banerjee, CM of West Bengal. It outdid itself apparently on the instruction of the Trinamul Congress, which wanted to serve the chief minister a chhanabora heavier than the one gifted to Rahul Gandhi on the request of local Congress MP Adhir Chaudhury in 2009. The chhanabora given to the Gandhi scion weighed 10kg. Even for record, this is not the first time. They’ve created another one of 10 kg weight for the maestro Birju Maharaj earlier.
And the item, beside Chhanabora in the pic, is Rosokodombo. It was originated in Malda, but travelled down to Murshidabad. It’s said, when Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya traveled to Malda, he rested below a Kadam tree. To make it memorable, the culinary maestros there prepared this sweet, resembling kadam flower. It’s prepared like a dry version of Rasogolla with cardamom powder and coated with poppy seeds and sugar.
However, they also made us taste a kheerpuli. It’s basically another kheer coasted dessert, but frankly, to me, it didn;t stand a chance.
But, once in that place, the hidden gem was not these. It was called as Jhuripata doi. We have seen doi or curd being settled in earthen pots or kulhars. But here they take a jhuri or bamboo made pot and the whole inside is smeared with kheer or dried milk. The holes are covered and leakage was prevented. And then, the curd was set inside it. The curd is generally less sweet in nature, but when one eats it along with the layer of kheer, nearly a foodgasm is reached. I won’t suggest anybody to miss it. The doi is super thick and yellow-ish in color. And this is something, I’ll strongly recommend to anyone. Again, I’d say, looks can be deceptive, but ask anyone and they’ll tell about this place for sweets.
But but but, let me be honest, I came to Murshidabad for mangoes and did I get it ? Hell yeah … I’ve got friends and very helpful friends. Now, atanu Upadhyay connected me to this gentleman named Rinku in Murshidabad. He runs a mango orchard and invited us for a mango tasting session there. The idea is, he’ll introduce us to different mango varieties and make us taste all of them. Now, this is something hardly anybody will miss. So, off we went on a lazy morning and to understand what happened there, do check my experience in his mango orchard in this video …
The next post in this season will be on one hidden talent in Murshidabad – a family who has been making Rose water and ittar for last 200+ years and their homemade biryani … And how can we forget the last chhote nawab of Murshidabad ?
Bon apetit !!!
Comments and critics welcome.
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