Love Rasgullas? Now Make Way for Chilly and Maggi Flavoured Ones!
(This story has been republished from The Quint’s archives in the light of Chennai-based Geographical Indications (GI) Registry announcing that Rosogolla originated in West Bengal, not Odisha. It was originally published on 20 August 2017.)
No matter how much you have them, it appears that regular rasgullas can never be passé. Now, Kolkata-based homemaker-turned-entrepreneur Swati Saraf is changing the way we look at our beloved rasgullas.
With over 250 flavours – ranging from downright whacky to path-breakingly innovative – this woman is reinventing the popular Bengali dessert.
What began as an experiment to reduce wastage of sweets (the ones that go unconsumed on every festive occasion), has now taken the shape of a business.
From regular fruity flavours to Kolkata special jhaal and phuchka rasgullas, karela, dhaniya-pudina and clove rasgullas to vodka rasgullas, Swati’s kitchen has a rainbow of rasgullas – quite literally!
How Did It Start?
Swati’s journey can be traced back to April 2016, when she started to get disillusioned by the growing lack of interest among youngsters in the traditional Bengali dessert. This, coupled with the rising apathy against sweets among the elderly – owing to problems such as diabetes – made Swati attempted something different.
In a conversation with The Quint, Swati talked about the early beginnings,
I wanted to keep alive the popularity of rasgullas; so I decided to use fruits and natural extracts with chenna (cottage cheese) and very little sugar to create my own version of the dessert that is so intricately linked to Bengali culture. Through the various flavours, I have tried to offer something to the young and old alike. My rasgullas are ‘less sugar, more taste’.Swati Saraf
We all love the spongy white delicacy that melts in the mouth, but would you care to try a green chilly-flavoured one? Or phuchka rasgullas? You may have had hot and sour soup at some point in life, but how about a hot n’ sour rasgulla? Sounds crazy, right?
Swati has a different take.
When asked what made her choose such eclectic flavours, she said,
My idea is to cater to health along with taste. This is the reason I have flavours such as karela (bitterguard), laung (clove), jeera (cumin), and ginger among others. As far as the whacky ones are concerned, they just kept happening one after the other. In fact, green chilly rasgullas are a favourite among my clients because of its tangy flavour.
Born and brought up in Kolkata, Swati considers herself a true-blue Kolkatan despite not being a Bengali herself.
Patakha Rasgullas up Next?
The fun for Swati lies in experimentation and innovation, which is why she once even supplied Vodka rasgullas for a New Year’s party. There's been no looking back since.
Keeping in sync with the season (festive or otherwise), she updates her menu to cater to her ever-growing audience.
Here’s Why the Kids Love ’em
Swati’s Maggi rasgullas, chocolate rasgullas and bubblegum rasgullas are a hit among kids.
Kids these days don’t want to eat healthy food! They only want chocolates, junk food and the like. How does one ensure their daily intake of protein? That’s why I decided to have fun with my recipes for them. Since I don’t use any artificial sweeteners, preservatives and flavours, I make sure the kids have their fill of protein through the pure chena that I use in my rasgullas.
There’s Something for Everyone!
It's All in the Family
With as many as 250 flavours on the menu, one would hope, quite naturally, that there would be an army of people to prepare the delicacy. Surprisingly not. Her home is her workshop and her family members her helpers. Swati churns out 5,000 rasgullas per day and counts her family as her biggest strength.
When asked about expansion plans, she says,
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