Traditional Bengali sweets and how they are made
What are traditional Bengali mithais made from? This article answers this question and also gives complete information on some of the traditional Bengali sweets which are popular not just in West Bengal but all over India and even in other countries.
The very word Mishti, meaning sweets, will set you drooling! It is not just festive and celebratory occasions which have Bengali families serving traditional sweets. In some homes, sweets are very much part of the desserts package at the end of a wholesome meal. Even as a guest to a Bengali home, you may be welcomed with a traditional Bengali sweet.
The main unique feature of most Bengali sweets which sets it apart from sweets from other parts of India is that they generally incorporate slightly sweetened cottage cheese. The ingredients which make up a Bengali sweet also include some type of flour or Indian pulses.
The manufacturing and selling of Bengalis sweets has evolved into a very profitable business, so much so that if you browse through the Google search engine you will come across blogs and websites exclusively devoted to these sweets. You will even come across websites of Bengali sweet shops in USA!
Here's a list of some traditional Bengali sweets...
Types of Bengali sweets
1. Shondesh (sometimes spelled as Sandesh): Out of the wide variety of Bengali sweets, Shondesh is by far the favourite of most Bengalis. Made basically from milk, sugar and cottage cheese, over the years many variations of this sweet have evolved. Some simple varieties incorporate a couple of raisins and saffron.
Varieties of Shondesh
* Abar khabo
* Jolbhora or indrani
* Ice cream shondesh
* Chocolate shondesh
2. Mishti Doi: This well-known sweet often ends a meal. It is basically sweet curds, best served traditionally in a small earthen pot. It is made from milk, yoghurt and sugar and the best way to savour it is chilled.
3. Chomchom (also referred to as Cham-Cham): This sweet is over a hundred years old! Originating from Bangladesh, this soft sweet is similar to the rosgolla, but is slightly thicker to touch. A light dusting of dried milk crumbs is sometimes to be found on the surface of the chomchom.
4. Rosgolla: Whether or not you are a Bengali, you will associate this sweet with the State of West Bengal, just as you would Durga puja! It is extremely soft due to its sponge-like nature. You practically close your eyes in ecstasy as your taste buds are pleasurably enticed by the sugar-flavoured syrup and cheesy flavour of the rosgolla. No wonder it has got the nickname of 'pleasure boat'.
Did you know?
* The rosgolla was originally from Orissa
* It is said to have been introduced to Bengalis by a sweets vendor named Haradhan Moira, although many credit sweet maker Nobin Chandra Das for creating the original Bengali rosgolla
* Each time you eat 100 g of rasgulla, you have gained 186 calories
5. Kala jamun: This is a very unusual type of gulab jamun; unusual because it is black in colour instead of the traditional brown colour of the gulab jamun. Kala jamuns include khoya, maida and cardamom powder and are covered with sugar syrup after being deep fried. It is the carmelised syrup which gives it the deep brown, almost black colour. There are varied versions of it, with some including grated coconut and saffron.
6. Kheer kadam: These are actually rosgollas which, after they are made, are rolled in a dough made of grated khoya and sugar with a pinch of rose essence. The dough-covered rosgollas are then refrigerated and served cold.
Naturally, this is not an exhaustive list – there are plenty more types of Bengali sweets to savour & enjoy!
Where to buy traditional Bengali mishti in Kolkata
Recommended sweet shops in Kolkata
1. K.C. Das Sweet Shop Kolkata
2. Jugal's Sweet Shop Kolkata