Rasagola which have now become popular throughout India and other parts of South Asia actually originated in the Indian state of Odisha. These are made from balls of Chhena (an Indian cottage cheese) and semolina dough, cooked in a sugar syrup. In Odisha, Rasagola,also known by its original name,Khira Mohana has been a traditional Odia dish for centuries. The inventors of Rasagola are thought to be the Kar brothers, the descendants of a local confectioner,Bikalananda Kar, in the town of Salepur, near Cuttack. Even today these Rasgollas famously named as Bikali Kar Rasgolla,are sold all over Odisha.
Though canned Rasagollas are probably the only choice for many Rasagolla-desirers outside Bengal or India, traditionally they are sold in clay pots called handis. In the coastal city of Puri in Odisha, the Rasagolla has been the traditional offering to the Hindu goddess,Lakshmi(the Hindu Goddess of Wealth), the consort to the Puri Temple’s main deity, Jagannath. In fact, it is an age-old custom inside the temple to offer Rasagollas to Lakshmi in order to appease her wrath for being ignored, on the last day of the eleven day long famous Rath Yatra(chariot festival). Only after the goddess has savored Rasagollas, do the trinity of deities re-enter the temple precincts after their sojourn. Rasagollas are distributed to the numerous devotees who throng to witness the event. This intricate ritual, called Niladri Vijay, has traditionally marked the commencement of the festival every year. Scholars believe that the sweet may in fact owe its origin to the very temple itself claiming that the Rasagollamight be more than 600 years old and is as old as the Rath Yatra in Puri! The Rath Yatra, which started more than six centuries ago, has not changed with times. And until today, Rasagollais the only sweet offered to Mahalaxmi, Jagannath’s consort, to appease her when the deities return home.
In many Odia households, sweets are savored on a daily basis. Rasagolla is the most common sweet available in all parts of the state. In Odisha, it is common to find a single raisin inside each Rasagolla. Crushed cardamom seeds are used for a fragrant version. The odia Rasagolla can be further differentiated into the Salepur and the Pahala varieties. The Salepur Rasagulla is more chewy and sweeter while the Pahala Rasagulla is very soft and aromatic.