Sunday 4 April 2021

Cottage-Cheese, Chhena, And Comments About Rasgulla #RasagolaA2Z

Cottage-cheese or Chhena, a milk product, is the main ingredient required to produce the 'King of Sweets"- Rasagola or Rasgulla.

Milk is split or curdled to create Chhena.
Odisha earned the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Odisha Rasagola on 29 July, 2019.

However, a false narrative has been set. The following myths are still being propagated-

Myth 1. Curdled milk or Chhena is "impure" and hence "taboo" and cannot be offered to God.
Myth 2. Chhena is not offered in any temple as there are restrictions.
Myth 3. Chhena did not exist in Odisha/India before the Portuguese arrived.
Myth 4. Portuguese taught Indians how to make cheese. 
Myth 5. Bandel cheese, taught by the Portuguese, was used to make Rasgulla.

The Rasgulla 'controversy' is well-fed and such myths are kept alive by the propaganda army and believers of these myths, despite information being continuously shared with on many platforms.
Note- This is happening in the age of social media and information.

Check out this well-researched article in an international magazine- 'Whetstone Magazine' published in the year 2020 that still propagates the 'cheese is taboo' theory.
There are hundreds of such articles or videos reports with the above myths despite information sharing.
As some well-known authors/researchers/historians have already published wrong information either due to misinformation or vested interests, the same continues.

For example, the above myths are supported by Shri K. T. Achaya in his book- Indian Food: A Historical Companion.
This is just one book.
There must be many with misinformation.
How to change/update many books?
How to take this forward when the authors are dead?

When the said book with wrong information was published by Shri K.T. Achaya, that time at least a few "intellectuals" of Odisha must have seen the book. What did they do to counter the misinformation? 
Were they not aware that Chhena is a part of Odisha's temple-food culture, and Rasagola and Rasamalai, among others, are Odia dishes?
They could have countered and taken steps to have discussion with the author and update the wrong when the author was alive.
As this was not done and the eminent author passed away two decades ago, hundreds of readers/researchers, referring to the said book, are still getting wrong information, which in turn is getting published in their "research" articles and books.

Though many "intellectuals" lack knowledge of Puri Temple rituals and Odisha's culinary and temple-food traditions, they still call themselves as "experts" about Odisha and continue to make baseless statements!

What happens when they are invited and their expert opinions are sought?- This should be anyone's guess! 
They allow the existence of controversy and confusion.

People feel the published news, especially in an economic and business daily, is trustworthy.
They believe in the printed words.
This article in the Economic Times, was published in 2017-
(Note- The information typed in italics in blue text is by yours truly.)

Thankfully, not all readers accept all the printed words.
Here are the two comments to the same article-

As social media and Twitter user & blogger Ashish rightly states in his blog here:
"In 2016, the media in Odisha published the screenshots of the particular page of "Dandi Ramayana" which mentions "Rasagola". The mainstream media must be knowing this very well. But when they write their articles, either they create fake news or they intentionally hide the text of Dandi Ramayana. Some guys just divert it by giving a new angle that Portuguese might have brought it with them. But, Dandi Ramayana was written much before Portuguese.
The media who don't know about the Dandi Ramayana because it is written in Odia, please have a look here."

The above image mentions the large number of Chhena dishes available in Odisha in the 15th Century.
Note 1- Chenna has been a part of Odisha temple food culture many centuries before Bengal's capital city was established.

 Note 2- Apart from Rasgulla that is associated with Shree Jagannatha Temple Rath Yatra, Odisha has many other Chhena sweets like Rasabali, Chhenagaja, Chhenapoda etc.

 Note 3- If a researcher makes an attempt to correct misinformation, she/he is BLOCKED!

Here is what we faced from @NGTIndia (NatGeoTravellerIndia) on Twitter when we corrected them-

 Note 4- Truth is being systematically erased/suppressed/hidden

Note 5- Biased news reports are regularly published.

Articles based on misleading & wrong info, provided in “documentation” so far, will continue unless correct info is shared by unbiased researchers & there’s an end to such propaganda. 

We thought earning the Odisha Rasagola GI Tag would dispel misinformation and put an end to "controversy". But, the fake news continues. 

Several meetings/seminars/conference must be organized where food historians, researchers, and experts  must come together to deliberate and discuss about this Chhena and Rasagola topic and reach a conclusion to end this "controversy".

Our hope is getting write-ups and videos from eminent food historians like Prof. Pushpesh Pant-

What to do when the truth about Rasgulla is not allowed to be shared?

When I shared regarding Rasagola's Odisha origin in the comments section of Zee News channel's Youtube video (in which they have shown incorrect info as mentioned in my previous post- Blatant Lies And Biased Reports Regarding Rasgulla) they deleted my comments!

This seems like a conspiracy to take over the Rasagola, while keeping the debate/controversy alive.

Some find this Rasagola issue 'sickening', 'tiring' and 'boring'; while others feel this 'fight' is 'silly and inconsequential'. By discussing about the uncomfortable Rasagola GI topic, one risks to be viewed as a trouble-maker and considered as a serious threat to our national integration. Note- All this is just to ensure the triumph of truth- Satyameva Jayate.

This writer has been consistently and persistently writing and sharing about this topic from 2014 onwards as someone has to "do something" and "bell the cat", and settle this Rasgulla controversy once and for all. That was the reason why this writer had proposed and initiated the Rasagola Dibasa - Rasgulla Day celebration on social media in 2015. Thereafter, this writer had united stakeholders, created awareness, advocated and facilitated the filing of the 'Odisha Rasagola' GI application. However, the misleading and biased articles and videos still continue. All mindless propaganda must stop. The truth about Rasagola's Odisha origin must be accepted by all.

I’m participating in the April #A2ZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

C For- Cottage-Cheese, Chhena, Comments, Controversy,  Conspiracy
I am writing A-Z posts about Rasagola26 Rasagola posts this April.
This sincere attempt is to enrich cyberspace by sharing correct information about Rasagola.
Rasagola is a part of Odisha's traditional knowledge, continuing tradition, cultural heritage and identity.  
Only when the truth is shared, people can learn and be aware.
You can check out my other Rasagola posts here.
This is my fifth #A2Z Challenge, and my last four challenges have been about Odisha, India. 
Are you aware of Rasagola? 
Did you know that Rasagolas originated in Odisha? 
Please do share any information about Rasgulla that you may have and which you feel must be documented and shared so that all are aware. 


  1. I did not even know that it was considered impure!!! Every time I go for the prasad at Iskcon I find that Raj bhog is one of the offerings. Well all that is printed is not necessarily correct- we all know that-sadly we still take it to be true.

  2. Though this post is more on research based but I couldn't stop myself from saying that I am a fan of goat cheese or chena.. Bengalis have ample of recipes with chena.. both sweet and salty.
    And I didn't known there were such unbelievable myths on chena!!

  3. I didn't know that some people consider Chena as impure. Thanks for the information and for busting the misconceptions.

  4. Chenna did not exist before the Portugese - I think that is one of the biggest myths. It is unfortunate that even some of our Indian intellectuals unnecessarily attribute things to foreign sources. These so called armchair intellectuals blindly follow what a few western authors with vested interests write.
    You have done such extensive research to establish your points.

  5. A well-researched piece. I didn't know this.

  6. What a well put together article! You have given proof to counter all misconceptions and it is sad the media isn't researching well before publishing such content that's an integral part of Odisha culture.

  7. Chena is impure? I didn't know that. Thanks for the info Anita.

  8. Wow Anita... I marvel at the amount of research you have done. Thanks so much for sharing all this... I didn't know of all these false propaganda and systematic way in which myths have been popularized!

  9. The amount of research and the dedication that you always bring to the table is something that is commendable. I feel so proud that we knew how to make Cottage Cheese so early and yet in spite of being proud we have lost all the information.


Your words mean a lot to me.

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