Bikalananda Kar’s Rassogollas, Salepur
9 December 2007
Puru, Maya, Mark and I set off from Cuttack, three people lighter, on our way to Bhitarkanika National Park on Day 6 of our “vacation” in Orissa. As we approached the State highway that would take us to Chandbali, our destination for the night, we asked the driver if there were any specialties (food, of course) anywhere along the way. BK Sahu’s face lit up and he said: “Sir, the rassogollas in Salepur are famous. It is a compulsory stop for anyone passing by.” Well, if it was a compulsory stop, then stop we must.
Contrary to popular opinion (that the Bengali’s have made sure to propagate), the rassogolla was invented in Orissa and the best rassogollas in Orissa are to be found at Bikalananda Kar’s Rassogollas in Salepur. Indeed, the rassogollas (or rasgullas, as they are otherwise pronounced and spelled in Hindi) at the Kar Brothers’ establishment are wonderful. They are slightly darker in color than the ones in West Bengal or elsewhere in India because these are cooked in syrup sweetened with gur (unrefined palm sugar). And they are absolutely fresh. They don’t have the slightly spongy, even squeeky, texture of other rasgullas I’ve had.
In addition to the rassogollas, we had deep fried snacks which they called “vadai“, sort of like pakoras, served with a sweet and slightly spicy chutney made with tamarind, mango, chili and the secret ingredient: left-over rassogolla syrup.