banno, dhanno and teja in bumm-bumm-bhole-land

sweet love

If there’s something that can completely unhinge me, it is a tin of rasgullas. I might crave for khichda, or saat-handli-pav, or patveliya-kheema, foods of my childhood, which are almost completely unavailable to me now, but sit me down in front of a plate full of the said foods, and I’ll tuck in only as much, or just a little bit more than I would my maid’s gavari-aloo-chapati. There may be times where I turn into Ms. Congeniality on beer, but for the better part of the year, I can look at an array of liquor bottles with complete indifference. I could have chocolates in the fridge for months, and never go beyond eating a piece at a time. I love hot jalebis like anyone else, but a couple can sate me.

And then, there are rasgullas. It must be the tins my father brought back from his business trips to Calcutta with stories of trams. My parents had travelled in trams in Bombay, but they had been discontinued a year before I was born, just another one of those things I thought I had missed by not being born earlier, like the chocolates Mummy ate when she was a child and which melted as soon as you put them on your tongue, or the handful of sweets you could buy for 1 paisa, or the bicycle rides my parents took when they were engaged from Khadki to Khadakvasla and the picnics they went for.

Tins were anyway, novelties. The only other tin we got at home contained baked beans with a sweet tomato sauce. And the rasgullas were unlike any sweet I had eaten. No ghee congealing in one’s mouth, not extremely sweet, not vilely colored, they were pristine white, round, chewy.

My father must have made one or two trips to Calcutta, and I think I did not taste any rasgullas for a few more years after that. Not from the tin, that is. We would be able to order a plate of rasgullas at a restaurant, but where was the pleasure of several, ‘uncountable’ rasgullas bobbing around in their sugary syrup in a staid plate of 2?

One day, a maid came to our house with a  familiar looking tin. Another employer had given her the tin as a gift. She was confused about how to open it, and about what was in it. My mother opened the tin for her, while my sister and I looked on excitedly, for the beloved sight of those white, sweet balls. ‘What are these?’, she asked suspiciously. ‘Rasgullas’, we piped up. She did not seem enamored of them, and asked us to keep them if we liked. My mother politely refused, while I writhed in silent protest. The maid insisted, so my mother kept a few rasgullas for us, and returned the tin to the maid. A couple of days later the maid told us that she had thrown the sweets away, no one in her house had liked them. I was aghast. To this day, when I eat rasgullas, I think of the ones that were thrown away. And I feel compelled to finish all the ones before me.

As far as rasgullas are concerned, I’ll start decorously with 2. Then another 2 because I love them. Then another 2, because heck, why not, I love them so much. And then, someone who loves me, will say, go on have another. And I shyly, will.

On my one and only, very short visit to Calcutta, I found the time to eat rasgullas in the evening at a small corner shop. The hot rasgullas disconcerted me, and unfortunately I did not stay long enough, to get used to them.

Recently a friend has started making frequent trips to Calcutta.  He says, the tins are bakwaas, you must get the rasgullas fresh from a shop, in a bottle. So he brought me a bottle last week. Should I call him a friend? He has undone a month’s diet.

I thought I’d have one a day, then reasoned it would mean cheating on my diet for a month, which would be extremely bad for my morale. Anyway, if the contents of the bottle were going into my stomach by the end of one month, why not by the end of the week? Might as well get the evil over with sooner, and get back to my diet.

Whatever.

The bottle is empty now.

There is one rasgulla waiting for Teja, however, who was away for 2 weeks.

He doesn’t even like rasgullas much, though he loves watching me eat them. But I thought it only fair to leave one for him. This could only be love.

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37 comments on “sweet love

  1. R's Mom
    January 16, 2012

    This is the BESTest tale of Rosogullas I have read in a long long time…I can so totally understand your sentiments..but your friend is right..the tin ones are bakwas….eating them straight out of a mud pot piping hot or keeping the pot in the fridge and squeezing the water out and eating the not-so-sweet-yet-enough-sweet balls is what heaven is all about :)

    • Banno
      January 16, 2012

      R’s Mom, I’ll have to go back to Calcutta, to orient myself to eating them piping hot. I’m too used to cold ones. :)

  2. Atul Sabnis
    January 16, 2012

    Curious. Did the lone rasgulla survive to be one with Teja? :D

    • Banno
      January 16, 2012

      It’s waiting, Atul. :)

      • dustedoff
        January 17, 2012

        One poor lonely rasgulla? Not fair. Have a heart, Banno. :-D

        • Banno
          January 17, 2012

          OK, Dustedoff, so half the lonely rasgulla too found its way into my stomach. Teja happily sacrificed it for the smile on my face. To be fair to myself, he is not crazy about rasgullas like me. :)

  3. harvey
    January 16, 2012

    And I had thought only I had this story of Dad going to Calcutta on work trips and bringing back tram stories!
    I agree with you Rasgullas should never be kept together in a fridge or a bowl or a closed tin for that matter. The only safe place for them is the stomach.
    I had such a great time reading this post. Thanks!

    • Banno
      January 16, 2012

      You too, Harvey? :)

  4. Violet
    January 16, 2012

    Great reasoning Banno, you are a very logical woman. And your selfless love for Teja makes my eyes misty. Let me get you some rasgullas from Kolkata as a mark of my respect :)
    And I have to share this – couple of years back, I bought a Haldiram tin of rasgullas. When we opened it, Pari, excited like any 2.5 yr old peeked inside and screamed — Mumma see, laddu swimming in the water!

    • Banno
      January 17, 2012

      Pari is dead right. ‘Laddu swimming in water’ is quite right. But please, please don’t get me any more rasgullas, or my diet will go down the window. :)

  5. Anu Warrier
    January 17, 2012

    Banno, I shall share my sad tale with you. *sob* My husband went to Calcutta on work many years ago. He was there for a whole week. He came back with tales of Rasogollas and Mishti Doi. He said he had eaten oodles of them and there was no comparison to the tinned ones we got in Bombay. He waxed eloquent for more than half an hour on the joy of eating piping hot Rasogollas in little dishes made of leaves, and of eating ice-cold ones from the mudpot, after squeezing the water out. Where is the sadness, you ask? He didn’t bring one single one back! His excuse? He didn’t think he could carry the mud pots on the flight, and his colleagues told him that the tinned ones were not a patch on the ones in the mud pot!

    ps: He didn’t bring me a Calcutta Sari either, though his colleagues took him shopping and exhorted him to buy me one!

    • dustedoff
      January 17, 2012

      Now I’m longing to pay a visit to Chittranjan Park to buy a nice big matka full of rasgullas (and while I’m at it, I might as well buy some mishti doi too!)

      • harvey
        January 17, 2012

        eat some for me too!
        no rasgullas here far and wide! :-(

        • Banno
          January 17, 2012

          Harvey, maybe you should learn to make them. :)

      • Banno
        January 17, 2012

        Dustedoff, oh no, I’ve sent everyone off on an indulgence spree. :)

        • dustedoff
          January 18, 2012

          And why not? :-) Thank you for inspiring us all!

          • Banno
            January 18, 2012

            Dusted Off, Why not indeed? :)

    • Banno
      January 17, 2012

      Anu, I would have sent Teja packing back to Calcutta if he had done what your husband did. :) It’s a sad tale indeed.

      Though the truth is that he has always brought back tins, not the ‘mud pot’ ones. But this Bengali friend said that these days you can get everything packed for flights, and he gets them in a bottle. :)

  6. dipali
    January 17, 2012

    There was a time when I made decent rasgullas. But since coming to Kolkata we have rarely partaken of them. These days, though, you get ones made with date palm jaggery, which are truly awesome. Methinks Banno needs to visit Kolkata to partake of her favourite sweet :)

    • Banno
      January 17, 2012

      Dipali, this is a clear case of ‘ghar ki murgi, dal barabar’. I know, the date palm jaggery ones are really good, I’ve had those earlier. This time, my friend got us the date palm jaggery pedhas, which deserve another story. Yes, I do, do want to holiday in Kolkata, that has been a childhood fantasy. Some time, soon.

      • dipali
        January 23, 2012

        Whenever you plan to come, please remeber that my house is yours :)

        • Banno
          January 24, 2012

          I have no doubt about that, Dipali. :)

  7. sukanya
    January 17, 2012

    y-u-m-m-o!! is all I can.
    you got me enticed enough to remain speechless.

    • Banno
      January 17, 2012

      Sukanya, :)

  8. kateshrewsday
    January 18, 2012

    Banno, HOW did you leave this one for Teja? I would never have had that self control! I think you’re very noble. And as I have never had a rasgulla in my life, I feel duty bound to investigate…

    • Banno
      January 18, 2012

      Kate, you must try one, it’s a pretty interesting taste, and quite different from most Indian sweets. I know, I have tremendous self control. I also knew that he would give it to me, ultimately, as he did. :)

  9. The Wild Child
    January 18, 2012

    What a post! And you’re right — even I remember the things I DIDN’T get to eat much more vividly than the stuff I did. Man oh mannn! I had to make a trip to the local Indian grocery story today and buy a tin of rasgullas! Told myself I’ll have one everyday as my reward for working out. Had four already and I only WALKED! They don’t even taste half as good as fresh ones, for sure, but still!

    I’m glad I at least have company in you. Thanks! :)

    • Banno
      January 18, 2012

      The Wild Child, I hope I haven’t derailed you from your workout regime. I was so moved by your post today, wish I’d discovered your blog earlier.

      As for rasgullas, yes, you do have company in me. Always. :)

      • The Wild Child
        January 20, 2012

        Nope….not yet derailed! Let’s see how long it lasts :)

        I never even particularly liked rasgullas….but now I do! Thanks for making them delicious!! :D

        • Banno
          January 23, 2012

          The Wild Child, I am thrilled about the conversion. :)

  10. Space Bar
    January 19, 2012

    :-) This is totally awwwww!

    (Glad to see other people have a thing fo mishti doi, though. And that winter time palm gud….what’s it called?…oooooh.)

    • Banno
      January 23, 2012

      Space Bar, the friend also brought some palm gud pedhas, wish you were here.

  11. Sanjana
    January 20, 2012

    okay… TWC sent me here cos she was eating her rasgullas as she was chatting with me and said she ” had to buy them cos Batul wrote about it”.
    :D

    Love the way you write! I felt myself go all “awww!” at the sight of the last rasgulla that you kept for Teja! It’s true, that’s gotta be love! :)

    • Banno
      January 23, 2012

      Sanjana, I knew he’d give it to me anyway, which he did, and I gave him a half back. So …. :)

  12. M
    January 25, 2012

    Ok I am the apostate, who doesn’t worship rosgollas (not fond of sweets) – but have to say this post actually made me think about buying a tin from the Indian store! Also, being mostly curled milk, surely they aren’t the diet busters you think they are? All that protein….

    • Banno
      January 26, 2012

      Definitely M, they seem healthier than most Indian sweets. :) However, they are soaked in sugar syrup. So …

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This entry was posted on January 16, 2012 by in Banno and tagged , , , .
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