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Odisha Rasagola: Recognition at Last

There are many food in Odisha that are considered to unique to the state. Odisha rasagola is a really famous example and now the Government of India has acknowledged it. This sweet has now been given a Geographical Indication tag to designate it a unique culinary creation of Odisha

The rasagola has been a bone of contention between the Odias and the Bengalis for quite some time. As the sweet is said to be prevalent in both states, Odisha and West Bengal have both laid claim to the origin of the rasagola. Sometime ago, West Bengal got a GI tag for Bengali Rasgulla in November 2017. They were understandably quite happy. The state government announced that November 14, 2018 would be celebrated as Rasgulla Diwas.

Now we have a GI tag of our own, issued on Monday, 29th July 2019.

Rasagola
My Good Times

Historical References

There are many references to rasagolas in old Odia literature. Balaram Das’ Odia Ramayana also called Jagamohan Ramayan is a late 15th century example. Fakir Mohan Senapati, the famous Odia writer mentions prolific use of rasagolas in his writing Utkal Bhramanam published by Utkal Deepika on August 27, 1892. Then there is the poem ‘Bali Jatra’ by Damodar Patanaik published by the Indradhanu on December 14, 1893 mentions the presence of rasagolas in sweet shops in the famous Cuttack festival by the same name.

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What is Geographical Indication?

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik

According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation “A geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.”

It means that a only a rasagola made in Odisha can be considered an Odisha rasagola.

The registration was conferred to ‘Odisha Rasagola’ under Section 16(I) or of authorized user under Section 17(3)(c) of Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999. The GI number 612 has been registered in favour of the Odisha Small Industries Corporation Limited (OSIC Limited), a government of Odisha undertaking and Utkal Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti, a traders’ organisation, in the foodstuff category.

What makes Odisha Rasagola unique?

The application asserts that Odisha Rasagola are not coloured using food additives but different colours are achieved by caramelization of sugars by precise application of heat. The rasagolas are initially white but various shades of off-white colours can be induced by frying them at 110 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes.

This method is distinctly different from the recipe of the Bengali rasgulla and there are differences in colour, taste and texture.

Therefore Odisha rasagola is different from Bengali rasgulla and thus they have different GI tags.

In the end it only matters that the world now knows what is actually a Odisha Rasagola and no one else can claim that their rasagola is original if it’s not made in Odisha. Therefore, our humble sweet now has worldwide recognition.

The Odisha government has been trying to get recognition for rasagolas since 2015. Their last application for Pahala Rasagola got rejected in favour of the Bengali Rasagola. It has take a long time but now the hard work has paid off.

To celebrate this we’re going to Cuttack to eat some of their special Pahala Rasagola. Sadly it failed to get a GI tag but it is still damn delicious. See you soon.

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