HYDERABAD : The Bengali cuisine is known for its vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies ranging from Shukto to Sorshe ilish, but its fame all over the world is for its mishti or range of sweets. Bengalis are known to enjoy their sweets at the end of any meal. A visitor to any home is welcomed with sweets and it is customary to take along a packet of sweets when you go across to meet relatives and friends.
The Bengali sweets have little different ingredients from those from other regions. Traditionally, thickened milk was one of the prime ingredients of many of the preparations. Chhana or cottage cheese came with the Portuguese traders and the Bengalis embraced it wholeheartedly. Nolen gur or date jaggery is a sweetener which is much in demand and finds its way into many recipes.
The most popular sweet from Bengal is Rasogolla, notwithstanding the recent fracas over Geographical Indication (GI) with Odisha. The spongy chhana balls soaked in sugar syrup are ubiquitous in every sweet shop. A version using nolen gur especially during winter has a steady demand too.
Sandesh, the soft sweet made from chhana again comes in all shapes and sizes. The hard version (called ‘Kora pak’) has more shelf-life whereas the softer version (Naram pak) melts in the mouth. An extremely delicious Sandesh is Jalbhara (literally means “filled with water”) where the insides of the sandesh is filled with flavoured water or even syrupy date jaggery.
A popular version of curd from the Bengali repertoire is Mishti Doi, a slightly coloured sweet curd made in earthen pots. This is perhaps the most in-demand dessert after a good Bengali meal. Pithe, Puli, Patisapta and Payesh are some delicacies prepared at homes during seasonal or festive occasions. Different regions of Bengal have their favourites too like Shorbhaja, Sitabhog, Joynagarer Moa and Lyangcha.
Hyderabad has quite a few outlets offering Bengali sweets.
One of the popular destinations for Bengali sweets here is definitely Ganguram’s. The group from Kolkata has established three branches at Kondapur, Madhapur and Sainikpuri. Kheer Kadam, Sarbhaja, Sitabhog, Bhapa Sandesh and Mishti Doi are some of their items which see a huge demand. On Sundays, they have some special items on offer. As per Arindam Bose of Ganguram’s they will be shortly setting up some more branches in the city.
Delhi Mithaiwala in Ameerpet sells many types of North Indian sweets, but they have carved out a name for their Bengali sweets too. Many of their staff are from Bengal. Their Nolen Gurer Kachagolla and Jalbhora sell like hot cakes during the winter season. Apart from this their Chomchom, Lyangcha, Malai Sandwich and flavoured Rasagollas are popular too. They are shortly going to launch their outlet in Kondapur.
You also have the option of ordering Bengali sweets from a few home chefs like Moumita Ghosh of PeekNCook, who supplies special Bengali sweets based on prior orders. Apart from this, Sweet Basket in Chandanagar and Gachibowli, Kolkata House in Hafeezpet, Kesariya’s in Kondapur as well as Amantran and Emerald in Domalguda are some of the other places where you can try out Bengali sweets. With the Durga Puja season approaching soon, all these sweet shops are gearing up to augment their offerings.
Sabyasachi is a food enthusiast and blogs at www.foodaholix.in