Imagine a small hidden village, where Rabri is prepared and sold via B2B model to multiple cities. Yes, it is the cottage industry there and in many a household there, rabri is prepared in bulk. This blogpost is on Sweets of Bengal and this time, it’s the Rabri gram Hoogly. Rabri is originally said to have been invented in Varanasi and traveled to Bengal. We can get its mention in Chandimangala around the year 1400. But history apart let’s focus, let’s focus on the product.
My good friend Amitava from Felu Modak is helping me in documenting this series for the sweets of Bengal. And this time also, he took Anirban Bora and me on this trail. We left Kolkata early in the morning and on the way to Rabri gram, we were supposed to pick him up. But we think something and something else happens. On our way, there comes a shop by the name Amar Mishtanna Bhandar in Uttarpara. Please check the location here. Now, Amar is a petty old shop and quite a household name there. So, we had to stop there for our first sweet break.
Their signature mishti is the Sandesh named Uttarpara Sweets. It’s a square-shaped norom pak Sandesh, pretty soft in nature and with a layer of gur flavored malai on top. It’s damn tasty and definitely recommended. We could sense the amount of love that’s there for the place, as the Sandesh is named after the locality. BTW, Amar Mishtanna Bhandar is known for its Bonde or Boondi and it comes to the counter fresh in the afternoon. But it was morning time and we missed it.
Rabri Gram now
The original name of Rabri Gram is Gangpur or Ainya. I know Ainya sounds a bit strange, but can’t really help. If someone uses public transport, they need to catch the 26C route bus from Dankuni and it’ll take around 1 hour to reach Gangpur. It’s just like another quaint village in West Bengal. Unlike to Shaktigarh or Pahala (odisha). Neither, there is any signage or any roadside stalls, nor the villagers are much cooperative unless you know somebody local.
In Chandimangala (AD 1589), Mukundaram Chakravarti mentioned kheer, rabri (thickened sweetened milk), manda, kandu and nadu. In the same period, Chandidas Padavaili mentioned varieties of sweets (bibidha-mishta and sakar-mittai) which were distributed by his father Nanda when Srikrishna was born, while the baby itself received from the cowherd’s anna, curds, mishta, mitthai, chini (sugar) and bananas.
Now, the rabri making process is pretty easy, but tiring. Full cream milk needs to be boiled and thickened, while somebody needs to swing a fan on top of it. This cooling-from-top effect forms a faster cream (or malai) and paralely, that malai is taken to the inner side of the hot Kadai for it to dry. This process continues for many hours and the milk gets thickened. The mlai then is cut into small squares and put in the milk. Now, this variety of rabri is called as sar rabri, wherein there’s another variety named as Ghanta Rabri. There the sar is mashed and mixed in the milk. It’s more seen in the north Indian variety of Rabri. I know I am unable to explain the process, but please check the video above to see it.
The end result is a basic Rabri. What I could understand that this thing is sold to the wholesale sweets market in Kolkata and many other districts. The shopkeepers save on this laborious part of the process and finish the final part of Rabri in their respective workshops or factories. It’s be interesting to share that today automation hit this market. I’ve seen Felu Modak prepare their own rabri with a modern hi-tech machine. Please check the below post for the same.
Satyanaryan Mishtanna Bhandar, Singur
Well, As the Rabri Gram is over, Amitava asked us to go to Singur. I’ll not go into what made Singur famous, but this time, we were looking for some of the best Misthti Doi in that region. Well, I love Mishti Doi and that’s no secret to my friends. another drive and we reached Satyanarayan Mishtanna Bhandar, Singur Hoogly.
It’s a family-run shop doing business for 65+ years. And as per the locals, they specialize in Mishti Doi. The current generation entrepreneur Arunangshu and his brothers are running the operations now. The mishti doi or sweet curd is not the usual type that we find everywhere. It’s not heavy and the taste is less sweet. I was instructed to not to put the doi in a refrigerator, as it’ll spoil the taste, and who am I lesser mortal to disobey? I won’t say that it was the best mishti doi that I’ve ever tasted, but definitely, it’s among the better ones. And the quality is almost unimaginable in that suburb.
And lunch at Nabanna Hotel Singur
The lunch for the day was at Nabanna Hotel on Durgapur Expressway, at singur. I couldn’t believe the huge infrastructure that this place is maintaining. Out of nowhere, there is this gigantic modern Dhaba serving good food. The prices are pretty reasonable. 2 separate AC family rooms are there and a huge general seating area. Food is pretty good and multiple icecream counters and mocktail options are there.
Rabri Gram is a nice experience in itself. If you want to go there, please do not expect the best quality rabri. That place is meant for mass production and for supply to the wholesalers. And the house owners or rather business owners are not too keen to sell in a retail market. Now, it’s a government matter that whether there’ll be a rabri hub like Shaktigarh or the business will go on like this- but all I can say is, it was a good weekend drive.
Meanwhile, please check a brilliant illustration on Rabri published in Economic Times by my friend Anirban Bora
There are many such hidden gems in the Districts of Bengal and I plan to document them in this blog series. If you know of any such place, please let me know in the comment section.
Bon apetit !!!
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