Sarpuria and Sarbhaja are two sweets from Bengal, which have attained a cult status. And surprisingly, there is a confusion for the best with namesakes, Adhar Ch Das & Sons, in the birthplace Krishnanagar. We decided to travel to Krishnanagar to taste the original version and boy, it was well worth it.
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The question was bugging me for a long time "what's the difference between #sarbhaja and #sarpuria ". And today was one of those #Sundays, spent well for the #quest of #Foodkahini by #Mohamushkil . @sagar_sen da, Semanti and myself decided to pay a visit to the sarbhaja & sarpuria capital of @deptoftourismwestbengal – #krishnanagar . The second stop was the inventor of #pantua at #ranaghat and #lunch at the iconic #picehotel , made immortal by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay. And it was a #trip to remember. Details coming soon at www.moha-mushkil.com
How to reach Krishnanagar
You can check the location on Google map here
From Kolkata, there are numerous local trains to Krishnanagar and it is probably the fastest option. But if someone wants to drive to the birthplace of Sarpuria, it’ll take around 4 hours time to reach the place via car. Please check the train pics here.
But what’s all the fuss about?
Sarbhaja and Sarpuria both are milk-based sweetmeats with a heritage. In chaitanya Charitamrita, we can get the mention of Sarpuria. Seemingly, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu enjoyed 3 types of confectionery and one of them being this Sarpuria. Please note, we are talking about a time around 500 years back. It’s said, Advaita Acharya sent the sweets himself to Srichaitanya.
But the second story is more interesting. It’s said that Surukumar Das was the creator of Sarpuria. He did not have a shop them and whatever he made in the night, sold by the day, roaming in the streets. His son Adhar Chandra Das learned how to prepare the same and in 1902, the shop was established at the present place. And as he feared that the recipes for Sarpuria and Sarbhaja will get stolen, he used to shut the door and make it in solitude. I am not going into the debate on the authenticity of these stories, but it’s these stories that still entertain us.
Now, which Adhar Chandra Das is it?
Seemingly, there are two Adhar Chandra Das shops with one having multiple branches. But somehow just like a mother has got weakness for the weak son/ daughter, locals have got a weakness for the shady-looking shop. And thus it became our duty to check both the shops …
I must say, the one that almost all the locals referred, was much shabby in looks. It’s one of those typical Bengali sweet shops, where they pretend that they’re not really looking for any customer, but still sells out of compulsion. Please note, I am not saying the behavior was rude or something- but just that, it didn’t really have a touch of the modern customer service standards.
The new Adhar Chandra Sweets shop (the 3 floored building), and seemingly the older one, has got loads of variety to offer. Various types of innovative sandesh, mango doi etc are on offer. Apart from cash, cards and Paytm is accepted. And it’s clearly seen that they’ve understood modern-day customer service.
Sarbhaja and Sarpuria- finally
But, if I talk of the product, they’re pure gems. We’ve tasted both Sarbhaja and Sarpuria from both the places. According to the person managing the shop, Sarbhaja has got layers of Sar inside it, whereas Sarpuria has got only kheer, chhana and some chopped dry fruits. But it’s probably far from the truth and we’ll come to it at a later stage. The Sarbhaja visibly had multiple layers of Sar (Frankly, my English vocabulary is not that strong to explain what is Sar- other than layered milk reduction) and the outer layers are made slightly burnt, thus lending that typical taste.
Wherein, Sarpuria was much stronger in taste, but there was hardly any visible trace of Sar in it. The Sarbhaja, on the other hand, had a layer of fried sar and no dry fruits. But let me be honest, both tasted heavenly. I personally liked Sarbhaja more than Sarpuria, but that’s entirely a personal choice.
But as I was searching for the answer of the very basic question- what is the difference between Sarbhaja and Sarpuria ? And the only person I could look for answers is Mr Haripada bhowmik. Now, Sarpuria uses a mashed sar (“bata” in Bengali) and Sarbhaja uses ghee-fried pieces of Sar as layer with Kheer. We found sliced almond in Sarpuria whereas Sarbhaja was just the typical sweet. But my personal preference ? Definitely Sarbhaja …
Kheer er singhara
The final item that we’ve tasted over there, was the Kheer er singhara. The outer layer of the typical mini-sized singhara was made with kheer and sandesh was stuffed inside. And I must confess, they were brilliant in taste.
Between two Adhar Chandra Das & Sons shop, I’d like to personally go with the choice of the locals. I am not saying that the zazzy one (with multiple branches) was bad- no, never. But the product from the shabby shop was moister and that was the deciding factor for me.
Luckily, Adhar Chandra Das and Sons have started online delivery and they’re present in Bangla Misti Hub, Eco Park New Town.
My personal feeling is, where these shops (in Krishnanagar) fry the Sar and then build up the layering, shops outside Krishnanagar do just the opposite. The layering is built up first and then they are deeply fried and put in the sugar syrup. I am not saying it’s bad- in fact it’s delicious, but the color changes from Golden (item in Krishnanagar) to brown (in other places). I may be wrong on the making process here and would love to learn.
The sweets in Bengal have got amazing variety and definitely needs to be discovered. Do let me know of your local amazing sweets in the comment section, please …
Bon apetit !!!
Comments and critics welcome.
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