The fight over ownership of the highly delectable Rasgulla has been won by West Bengal after it got the official Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the GI registry — a wing of India’s Intellectual Property Office. Rasgulla is superbly sweet, but in recent years, West Bengal and Orissa have been involved in a bitter fight to claim ownership of the sweet. Both state governments had formed various committees to find and collect relevant evidence so that they can stake their claim to the highly popular sweet Rasgulla. Social media campaigns were also launched to spread awareness about the origins of the sweet. However, it is now clear that the evidence provided by West Bengal is more conclusive, which has enabled it to get the GI tag.
As per the documents submitted by the West Bengal government, the Rasgulla was invented by sweet maker Nabin Chandra Das in 1868. The main ingredient used in making Rasgulla is chhena or cottage cheese. The recipe for cottage cheese was learnt from the Portuguese and Das later transformed it into a sweet, which became famous as Rasgulla. The dossier submitted by West Bengal government contains statements given by various historians who have corroborated that documented evidence of use of chhena is not available prior to the 18th century.
With West Bengal getting the GI tag for Rasgulla, it can command special privileges for the Rasgullas prepared in the state. It is similar to the reputation that certain products enjoy such as Darjeeling tea, French Champagne, etc.