Journey through Bangldesh
In the Indo-Pak subcontinent, the name of Comilla's roshomalai is known to all. In our country, whether it is a social or family event, whether on a local or national scale, the course always ends with roshomalai. Even at the last SAARC summit, the roshomalai found its rightful place in the list of offerings for the guests.
The Ghosh community of the Tripura Dynasty created Comilla's famous roshomalai. In the early nineteenth century, they used to prepare and cater large orders of various kinds of sweets for many social and family events. In those times, there was a popular sweet made from a roshogolla with a layer of malai. At the time it was known as malai roshogolla. Later on, this led to the dry roshogollas in khir to make khir roshogollas. This new sweet was named “Khirbho.” This was the first variety of roshomalai. In the 1930s, the same roshogolla was made in smaller sizes and dipped in khir. They were prepared just like the roshomalais we eat to this day.
The preparation of roshomalai
The roshomalai is made by mixing two different types of sweets. Roshogolla and malai together contribute to the completion of the roshomalai. Milk is heated again and again in a low fire to make it thicker. About 40 litres of milk is turned to 10-12 litres of malai after 90 minutes of stove-heating. This density is the primary determinant behind the taste and the price of the roshmalai. After the preparation of the malai, the already prepared roshogollas are added together in a big bowl. As soon as the combination cools, the magnificent delights are ready. One of the most experienced sweet-makers of Comilla, Ratan Chandra Dey, 60, tells us, “Well-prepared roshomalai can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. Only after 36 hours is any refrigeration needed.”
The First Point of Sale
The first sale of Comilla's roshomalai is made everyday by the store called Matribhandar, situated in the Monohorpur area of Comilla. Khoni Shen and Moni Shen, two brothers, modernized the roshomalai industry of Comilla through their daily trade. Even today their establishment stands proud. The store sells a staggering 1000 to 1500 kilograms of roshomalai every single day! At the rate of 140 taka per kilogram, sales amount to a massive 1.5 lakhs per day!
The special roshomalai
At present, some stores in Comilla have come up with a “Special Roshomalai”. So there are now technically two types of the sweet. It's nothing too significant, though the special roshomalai is just a bit more sizeable than the ordinary ones.
Diabetes patients just could not be deprived of such a great treat! So, the makers of the roshmalay have also started to make “Diabetic Roshomalai”, started first by the Amrito Mishti Bhandar located in Nazrul Avenue, Comilla.
The Enriched Roshomalai Stores of Comilla
Other than Matribhandar and Bhogoboti Pera Bhandar, Comilla is also home to many other stores that sell roshomalai. They include Shitol Bhandar, Jolojog, Porabari, Jennis, Amrito Mishti Bhandar, Comilla Mishti Bhandar, Mishti Mela, etc. Displaying signboards that boast of Comilla's roshomalai's taste and purity, countless stores have cropped up using the name of the sweet that unfailingly attracts customers. Most of these are not the real roshomalai. To maintain the purity and sanctity of the recipe and taste of the great roshmalai, its original makers, Matribhandar and Bhogboti Pera Bhandar never opened any branches anywhere in the country. Many stores in the Dhaka-Chittagong highway are selling roshomalai using the name Comilla's roshmalai, in the process they are cheating the consumers, and are depriving them of the royal taste of the original product.
Roshomalai has not only enhanced the culture and history of Comilla, but its name and the country's name have been acclaimed internationally at the same time. Roshomalai is the highlight of every social event and cultural program in Comilla, and it has become a tradition for people to not leave the district without taking with them a few kilos of the precious sweet.
(R) thedailystar.net 2007