Setting sight on GI reg for Roshmalai

Dhaka,  Mon,  25 September 2017
Published : 25 Aug 2017, 19:57:30
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Setting sight on GI reg for Roshmalai

Setting sight on GI reg for Roshmalai
Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled
‘Roshmalai’ is the first thing that pops up in the mind of every Bangladeshi sweets lover upon hearing the name of Comilla. This is one of the most popular sweets items known for its mouth-watering taste across the country. This wholesome item holds its appeal to many people far and wide-a pride for Comilla as well as Bangladesh. "Roshmalai" is a must on the list of food items while treating house guests to state-level foreign guests in the country.

Setting sight on GI reg for RoshmalaiMany people of the country, however, are probably unaware of the origins of this special delicacy, which was initially known as "Khirbhog". In the early 19th century, "Khirbhog" was first introduced by the Ghosh community of Comilla, the then Tripura Rajya of British India. They used to create small sweets balls from dry "Bhog" and dip them into light brown "kheer" made by condensing pure milk by stirring it while boiling for a long time.

In course of time, the item got popular as "roshmalai", and became a tradition here in Comilla. Initially, during the time of East Pakistan, two brothers, namely Khanindra Sen and Manindra Sen, from Khariala village of Brahmanbaria, the then subdivision of Comilla district, founded the "Matree Bhandar" at Monoharpur in Comilla town and started making "roshmalai" and selling them on a commercial basis. Soon the name of this delicious sweets item along with the name of the shop started blowing around the city.

The sweets makers of the Matree Bhandar, the first-ever shop of "roshmalai" in Comilla, while asked about the process of making the special item, said that first 40 kg of milk is boiled and thus condensed into 13 to 14 kg which makes the perfect "kheer" for the "roshmalai". Later, small balls of sweets made of "Chhana", a particular item made from processed milk, are added to the perfect "kheer". Thereafter, when cooled, the taste of the entire sweets dish reaches the perfect level. However, the taste and price of "roshmalai" depends on the density and purity of its "kheer" and the taste and softness of the small sweets balls that are used.

     Although, Matree Bhandar is the most popular, famous and trusted "roshmalai" making shop for ages, of late, many are using this name and selling adulterated "roshmalai" at cheaper rates. There are many forged shops and dishonest sellers who use the name of "Matree Bhandar" and label the packing cover with an apparently unnoticeable "word" before the name for avoiding trade mark complicacies. They use low quality milk powder and mix flour with milk curd to make "roshmalai". That lowers the cost of production as well as decreases the quality and taste of "roshmalai".

So there is a chance that the popularity of "roshmalai" may decline because of such dishonest practices. Nevertheless, in spite of these cheap and forged "roshmalai" shops springing up here and there, the reputed Comilla sweets shops like Bhagobati Pera Bhandar, Sital Bhandar, of Monoharpur and Porabari, Jenis, Jaljog, of Kandirpar as well as the original shop Matree Bhandar of Monoharpur - which has no other branch or branches elsewhere - are known for their quality delicious "roshmalai".

 Crowds of "roshmalai" lovers can be seen every day at these reputed and genuine shops. They buy this traditional and tasty item for their own families or as presents for their dear and near ones within or outside Comilla. It is also seen that anyone from outside while visiting Comilla usually does not forget to buy "roshmalai" and carry it to far distant places. A process is underway to get Geographic Indication (GI) registration for this traditional item of Comilla, Bangladesh. This unique and popular mouth-watering item is now awaiting its global recognition.

The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General Education Cadre.

Email: sarwarmdskhaled@gmail.com
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