The delectable Bardhaman Mihidana that literally means fine grains was first prepared along with Sitabhog in honour of Maharaja Mahtab Chand Bahadur by the late Khettranath Nag according to his grandson, the late Nagendranath Nag. Seventy-two years later, both these dishes were served to Lord Curzon in 1904 when he visited Bardhaman on the invitation of Maharaja Bijay Chand Mahtab by Khettranath’s son Vairabchandra Nag. Lord Curzon was simply taken in by the two sweets and presented him with a certificate of appreciation that stated that he had never had such unique sweets before. The popularity of these two delicious dishes soon grew both in India and abroad.
Mihidana is commonly referred to as the junior cousin of the traditional boondi and is derived from mihi which means fine and dana meaning grain. It is prepared by hand mixing Gobindo Bhog or Kamini Bhog rice powder (though this traditional type of rice is on the verge of extinction) with besan (Bengal gram flour) and a certain quantity of water. The mixture will be smooth with a mild texture. Ghee is added to make it more flavoursome while saffron gives it a rich golden yellow colour.
Fresh ghee is poured in a pan and this prepared batter is dropped on a mesh or iron net over or poured through a brass ladle with tiny holes into the hot ghee. The small droplets are deep fried and then rested to remove the excess ghee. This fried boondi is then dipped in freshly prepared hot sugar syrup till they become soft. Bay leaves are added to the sugar syrup to give it more spice. Sweet shops across the city like to flavour it with Nolen Gur (new jaggery extracted from date palm trees) to make it more scrumptious.
This sweet requires tremendous skill in each and every step of preparation. Bardhaman Mihidana is well loved in the international markets for its quality, taste and natural flavour. It is prepared in large quantities during Durga Puja and looked upon as a mini-meal and normally served along with Sitabhog.
This heritage sweet of India is finer in texture, has a distinctive taste and aroma. Bardhaman Mihidana has won the patronage and recognition of sweet lovers around the world and was granted the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) in 2017.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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