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 aΒ  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.Β  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.


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.


  1. 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 aboutπŸ™‚

    • 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.πŸ™‚

  2. 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!

  3. 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 respectπŸ™‚
    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!

    • 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.πŸ™‚

  4. 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!

  5. 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 sweetπŸ™‚

    • 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.

  6. 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…

  7. 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!πŸ™‚

    • 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.πŸ™‚

  8. 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”.

    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!πŸ™‚

  9. 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….

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