With a history of over a century, the rosogolla has not only claimed a place in any kind of celebration – be it an informal encounter with visitors or a gala wedding – but has entered the dictionary with meanings that are often far-fetched. Someone looking nice and plump is often compared to Bengal&’s most famous and endurable sweet. It was also a matter of delight for those who picked up the delicacy in a neatly packed tin before leaving for Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai where one can, at best, run into a poor variation of the juicy joy. But now that sense of pride is being challenged by manufacturers and others in a neighbouring state who claim that there references to the rosogolla in ancient texts found in Orissa to suggest that Kolkata was not really the birthplace of the sweet as has been claimed all these years. Local pioneers of the spongy delight that was prepared from milk converted into chhana had even given their ancestral house the name of Rosogolla Bhavan. If that was meant to put the seal of approval on the creator of the sweet that must be served at any formal celebration, inheritors of the illustrious legacy are not really concerned about their market. Nevertheless, they are confronting the challengers with evidence that the rosogolla has been mentioned in the ancient texts and have its roots in Kolkata. In more recent years, a song has been composed for a film about young people in the city claiming “Ami kolkatari rosogolla”. To be sure, there was a lot of fun generated in countless films with scenes of the rosogolla being stuffed into mouths to celebrate new bonds or to express gratitude for a kind gesture.

A lot of water has flowed down the Hooghly since then. Talk to the more modern manufacturers of the rosogollain Kolkata and there will be references to creative cocktails that one couldn’t have imagined when the Das family of Baghbazar were known to have discovered the ingredients and displayed the skill that has now spread far and wide. There is no quarrel with those who have emerged with a popular variety that is now baked and served in five-star dinners. But there is a sense of concern when history is dug up to suggest that Kolkata has been living on false pride all these years. The debate has been extended to television shows and new books on the subject. The common man with a sweet tooth may look at all this with amusement because, in the final analysis, it is not the inventor who matters but the rosogolla itself. Academic claims are far less important than the variations that have appeared and the joy that still spreads through the earthen pots. It is the messenger of love and affection that promises to break time and cultural barriers.

A senior actor at the last Kolkata international film festival earnestly appealed to foreign guests not to leave the city without an encounter with the rosogolla or any of its variations like the rajbhog. Whether they actually carried back some sugary tales was not known.But if they did, on their travels through India, find better rosogollas elsewhere, it would have drawn incurable rosogolla lovers even from Kolkata to the new location – whatever the history.