History of KC Das: the rosogulla inventors (and CV Raman connection)

Brilliant piece by Kathakali Chanda in Forbes India.

Born in 1845, Nobin was always prone to experimentation. A failed attempt saw him being kicked out of work with a local confectioner. He set up his own shop to attempt the rosogolla, but was soon mired in debt as the sweet would keep crumbling. In 1868, he figured that the trick lay in the right consistency of sugar syrup—not too thick—to hold it together. But commerce was the last thing on his mind and he would distribute the rosogolla at local addas. Till a Marwari timber merchant who was driving by stopped at his shop for his son to have water, and the father and son were given the sweet to taste. They loved it and, almost fortuitously, rosogolla was extricated out of a neighbourhood and introduced to the community at large. “It may sound ironical but the popularisation and commercialisation of the rosogolla came through a non-Bengali,” says Dhiman.   

How did the rosogolla come to symbolise the community and not, say, the sandesh that most Bengalis love with equal fervour? Perhaps because it is so unlike any other Indian sweet, which is either dry or isn’t made of chhana. “And of course its simplicity is part of its appeal. There is nothing in a rosogolla but chhana, sugar and water. How much more minimalistic can you get? Yet, the technique is crucial,” says Banerji. 

Nobin passed away in 1925 after which his business was taken over by his son Krishna Chandra (KC Das, after whom the company is named), and his younger grandson Sarada Charan. The two were driven by scientific curiosity—KC was an innovator at heart and Sarada a research assistant to CV Raman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics, at the Rajabazar Science College—and the urge to increase the shelf life of sweets resulted in vacuum-packing rosogollas in a tin, which would prolong their longevity, minus preservatives. In 1930, they set up the first outlet of KC Das and started selling canned rosogollas, the first in India to do so. The product, and with it the brand, was ready to be transported across the country and abroad. 

“KC Das also did make a contribution of his own. He took his father’s creation, the rosogolla, and created the rosomalai, which is the same ball of chhana floating in a sweet, milk syrup (sometimes garnished with crushed pistachios, sometimes flavoured with saffron). That, too, is sold abroad. But now other confectioners, such as Haldiram’s, also export it,” says Banerji. 

Read the whole thing. How the decision by WB govt led the company to look for alternative locations leading to Bangalore. There is a reason why you see many KC Das outlets in Bangalore…

 

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