Historical records of the origin of the mouth-watering Odisha Rasagola dates back to at least 800 years. There is a sacred tradition of rasagolas offered to Lord Jagannath as part of bhog for centuries. It is believed that the culinary delight formed a significant part of the age-old rituals of Niladri Bije of the Jagannath temple going back at least to the 12th century if not further. During the festival of Niladri Bije, Lord Jagannath offers rasagola to cajole His disgruntled consort Goddess Lakshmi on His return from a nine-day Rath Yatra. This day is now celebrated by Odias as Rasagola Dibasa every year.
Odia cultural exponents also say that reference of rasagola is found in Odia Ramayana written by Balaram Das in the late 15th century. This celebrated Odia Ramayana is also known as Dandi Ramayana or Jagmohana. Another religious text of Ajodhya Kanda also gives a detailed description of chhena (cottage cheese) and chhena products including rasagola.
Another famous Odia writer, Fakir Mohan Senapati published the importance of rasagola in Odisha in his Utkal Bhramanam in 1892. Bali Jatra, a poem written by Damodar Pattanayak gives an eye-witness account of the famous historic fair of Cuttack namely Bali Jatra that raves about the stunning display of rasagolas and other sweets.
Odisha rasagola received the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) in 2019 after a lengthy and bitter battle with West Bengal who are also famous for their rasagolas. The Odisha rasagolas however have a very distinctive soft texture and are non-chewy and juicy in consistency, practically melt in your mouth and can be swallowed without being bitten into.
The specific caramelization of sugar gives you both white and as well as the intensely brown varieties. The brown colour is created through the syrup only and this unique taste rendered to the rasagola sets it apart from others. Places like Pahala and Salepur in the state are very famous for this syrupy delicacy.
The intense bond that this succulent dessert has with Lord Jagannath makes it a divine experience which everyone will cherish.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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